Re-watching the DYNASTY-verse ... alphabetically!

James from London

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It’s been over a year since I finished re-re-re-watching ‘80s DYNASTY and just lately I’ve been jonesing for an establishing shot of a penthouse exterior accompanied by some frantic background music, so I decided to do with DYNASTY what I’ve been doing with KNOTS and DALLAS, i.e.. re-re-re-re-watch the whole thing again, only this time in alphabetical rather than chronological order. So ... here goes:

Acapulco (01 Dec 82) v The Accident (22 Feb 84)

I actually think the wild orchestral score is the thing about '80s DYNASTY that I’ve missed the most. It’s fun to be guided by how madly it rises and falls as what's the most important thing going on in each episode. It seems clear in Acapulco that the main concern is that show’s most precious jewel, Krystle and Blake’s lovely love, is in jeopardy. The previous ep ended with Mark telling Krystle their divorce was never finalised and now Krystle feels she must spare Blake this terrible news and bear the burden alone. While he is away in Washington doing something confusing with Neil McVane that Alexis won’t like, she jets off to Mexico to sit anxiously in hotel rooms and have what Mark’s already told her explained to her again by different people. When Blake discovers she’s gone somewhere without him, he slightly freaks out (a bit like the episode of THE ROYLE FAMILY where Barbara goes for a walk for half an hour and the family assume she's left them to start a new life). When he then finds her in Acapulco, she tells him the whole story and he assures her he’ll get to the bottom of things and there’s nothing for her to worry about and while they’re in one of the most romantic cities in the world they might as well order room service and make lovely love. So one assumes Krystle will now be restored to her normal serene self, but then the music tells us there’s still something wrong, something so wrong that Krystle accidentally smashes her Magarita glass just by holding it too tightly, like she’s Jaime Sommers rejecting her bionics. There’s something deeper that’s troubling Krystle, even deeper than her and Blake’s lovely love, and it has to do with Mark — but what can it be? The next episode's called The Vigil so I guess I'll have to wait till I get to V to find out.

“This whole #MeToo thing would have never flown in the ‘70s at Carrington Atlantic,” says Jeff and Monica’s nameless granny in New DYNASTY. I can’t see it going down too well in the workplaces of ‘80s DYNASTY either. During these two episodes, tennis coach Mark presses himself up against his boss (Fallon) while wearing only a towel and kisses her, Fallon tells her employee (Claudia) that a guest (Peter de Vilbis) making passes at women is just his way of complimenting them and Adam stops Kirby in the hallway of Denver Carrington to tell her she’s too pretty to work and should be off having babies. “You have the babies,” she replies, causing him to laugh loudly and smugly. A year later in The Accident, he’s tearfully telling her that she's just lost their baby. Not laughing so loudly now, are you, Adam?

Fallon spends both episodes being all efficient and La Miragey, only stopping occasionally to wave at her baby or get run over by a car. The one time she reminded me of New Fallon is in Acapulco when she tells Blake off for driving Steven away from Denver and not doing enough to bring him home.

Whereas Acapulco concentrates on the family and their exes, the focus of The Accident is more diffuse, incorporating kidnapped racehorses, scheming publicists, swaggering suitors, even an anonymous gaslighting violet sender. Plus there's much talk of Peter de Vilbis — practically the entire cast line up to tell Fallon why she shouldn’t marry him — but no sign of the man himself. But again if we listen to the mad music, it drives towards what's at the heart of the ep: first, Blake’s struggle to come to terms with Adam’s admission that he poisoned Jeff with that toxic paint (the effects of which he was just starting to feel in Acapulco, accompanied eerily by gongs and panpipes on the soundtrack) and then Blake apologising to Alexis for having accused her of the dastardly deed. (Alexis is more sinned against than sinning in this ep: Steven all but accuses her of sending Claudia evil flower arrangements.)

The Accident also contains that peculiar nugget of a scene where Dex mentions, nay boasts, to Blake about his father sleeping with Alexis while she was still married to him (Blake). Blake’s reaction is pretty cherishable too: “First the father then the son? She’s a real humdinger!” (The Acapulco equivalent of this line is Krystle’s, upon learning Alexis was the one who brought Mark to Denver: “They’re gonna have to rewrite the book when it comes to unholy alliances!”)

Both episodes end with a Carrington kid in mortal jeopardy. A shadowy Steven is blown up on an oil rig in Acapulco in Indonesia - whoops, I mean in Indonesia in Acapulco - and either Fallon or Jeff, or maybe even both, is/are hit by a drunk driver in The Accident.

And the winner is ... The Accident

BONUS BEATS:

 
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Tony

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I'm so glad you've started this. I have to say the nuDynasty rewatching isn't much of a draw, but The OG is definitely worth a revisit. Looking forward to the conclusions as you bounce from Season 1 to 7 to 9 to 5 then back again.
 

Willie Oleson

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I wonder if Krystle ended up in a hotelroom previously occupied by her wicked nemesis.
She could have found something behind the bed, something that will become very meaningful in one of the later seasons. Missed opportunity, again!
 

James from London

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The Accident (29 Jan 86) v Adam's Son (10 Feb 88)

The Accident wraps up the Krystle/Rita story, with both Linda Evanses impersonating each other to the bitter end. It’s really fun. Then Rita and Joel drop off the face of the earth never to be seen again, just like Wes Parmalee does on DALLAS a year later. After a sweet scene in the hospital where Krystle convinces a terrified Blake that she is not her own doppelgänger by reciting a scene from the pilot episode, their lovely love is restored — but just as in Acapulco, Krystle is still too traumatised to live happily ever after. Instead, she is tormented by nightmares and plagued by Alexis’s amusingly prurient questions about what she and Joel really got up to in that attic. Steven laughs incredulously as his mother compares Krystle to Patty Hearst (which makes him seem nicely human) and the episode ends with her pitching the headline KRYSTLE CARRINGTON LOVE SLAVE to a sleazy tabloid. (Alexis also delivers the maddest line of the episode: “Truth? That word is as foreign to you, Sammy Jo, as Mandarin Chinese is to a Colorado cowboy!”)

The first episode called The Accident, from two years earlier, focused on Blake struggling to forgive his son for poisoning Jeff. Likewise in the second episode called The Accident, Krystle must forgive her niece for kidnapping her. Krystle’s royal pardon heralds the start of Sammy Jo Turning Good. By the time of Adam’s Son, she has become the most down-to-earth Carrington of them all, as indicated by her wearing double denim and playing frisbee on the beach. Happily, though, she’s not too down-to-earth to start an affair with her ex-brother-in-law-once-removed, Jeff.

Also in the first Accident, Alexis tried to explain Adam’s loony behaviour to Blake by citing her previous conversation with Dr Edwards about Adam’s teenage breakdown. Adam recounts the same sorry tale to Claudia in the second Accident to try and win her back. She tells him to get lost, but then calls Dr Edwards to check up on what he has told her. Poor Dr Edwards has told Adam’s story so many times by this point he’s probably had it embroidered on a pillow.

Jackie Devereaux makes her debut appearance in this ep, giving off the same impish aren’t-I-adorable vibe that Kirby did when she first arrived. Also like Kirby, Jackie has screwed up her life in Europe, not by having it off with a married man but by getting expelled for hitch-hiking during a meteor shower or something equally free-spirited. Dominique tries to be the same kind of hard ass parent as Joseph was, but ultimately is unable to resist her daughter's adorable adorability.

It’s hard to put my finger on it exactly, but you can just tell Adam’s Son is made on a smaller budget than The Accident. It feels more hemmed in somehow — maybe the sets are smaller — and Alexis wears fewer gravity-defying hats. But what it lacks in glitz, it more than makes up for in conflict. Everyone is at each other’s throats: Steven, Adam and Fallon argue amongst themselves while running Denver Carrington, Steven and Adam fight with Jeff and Dex over the pipeline, and even Blake is sufficiently pissed off with his golden boy Jeff to fire him as his campaign manager. Just as she was in The Accident, Alexis is busy making accusations of infidelity, but instead of aiming them at Krystle and Joel, her target is her latest husband, aka the George Lazenby one, Sean, and her obsequious assistant Leslie.

Whereas Dex angered Alexis in The Accident by wrestling a crippled King to the floor, here he shocks her by telling her that the man she has just married is the son of the major domo she drove to suicide. He then utters the words that every new bride dreads hearing: “Alexis, he married you to destroy you!”

I really like Jessie Atkinson, the husband of the mother-to-be in Adam’s surrogate baby story, but the rest of it is a drag. Adam and Dana’s supersized emotions don’t really fit into this issue-based TV movie plot about “normal” people. Give me a demonic Sean Rowan terrorising Leslie over Dana wailing about her rubbish womb and Adam shouting about the seed from his body.

Despite that, the winner is … Adam’s Son

BONUS BEATS:


 
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Tony

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It's fun comparing the different seasons of Dynasty, and the above episodes are 2 years apart. Season 8 was definitely hemmed in and on a tighter budget, partly because of the rising costs of the big three's salary - and the lack of location shooting. Which is one reason why David Paulsen was happy to let Linda Evans go and reduce Joan Collins so he could what he said breathe some life into the show, let horses run, get the teamsters on the road.

I still prefer Season 8 over the first half of Season 6. For me the fun of Season 6 begins when Alexis catches Dex in bed with Amanda and Caress and Ben arrive.
 

James from London

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The Affair (29 Apr 87) v The Aftermath (25 Sep 85)

“I guess incest runs in the family,” says Cristal in the Season 1 finale of New DYNASTY. Whizz back thirty-one years to The Affair and, sure enough, there's the OSI’s Oscar Goldman — I mean, Buck Fallmont — informing detective agency boss Charles Townsend — I mean, Blake Carrington — that “your niece is sleeping with her brother!” Blake and Krystle spend most of this episode, the penultimate of the season, playing psychiatrist to a bunch of supporting characters who have reached the end of their tethers (and their contracts): Buck, Ben, Clay and Sarah Curtis. “The truth can scare us but it can also heal us,” says Krystle sagely. A weepy Jackie Devereaux also makes her last appearance, looking a lot less perky than when she first arrived in The Accident.

Alexis, meanwhile, spends the ep at the mansion overseeing Adam and Dana’s wedding arrangements, which puts her in the ideal position to piss off Miss Gunnerson, roll her eyes at Krystle and insult Sammy Jo. As a reward for all her hard work, she’s given a 58-second montage at the end of the ep where she rides off on the back of some English public schoolboy’s motorbike and they party like it’s 1975.

I started this re-re-re-watch cos I’d been craving some unique DYNASTY weirdness and I hit the motherlode with The Aftermath, the first episode of Season 6. This is DYNASTY upside down and through the looking glass; it’s the start of Yuri’s Dream Season. The opening scene outside the cathedral feels like a kids’ game of “Moldavian Massacres” where everyone’s already been shot dead, but they’re all having too much fun to stop playing so they just all get back up and carry on — only with a really big budget and millions and millions of people watching.

However nonsensical it all is, a genuine feeling of gravitas creeps in along the way. Theodore Bickel is so good as Moldavia’s interior minister that he elevates every scene he's in while Luke’s death scene and everyone’s reactions to it are properly sad. Upon hearing the news, Claudia calls him “the other outsider” before immediately bringing the conversation back to herself. Meanwhile, Krystle behind bars fending off Yuri’s unwanted attentions is good practice for later in the season when she’ll be doing the same thing to Joel Abrigore's in the attic.

There are even more thrills when the action moves outside of Moldavia. Here's Rita Leslie, pre-nose job! Here's Randall Adams encountering her very first Californian Colby! “You are marvellously secretive,” an instantly smitten Miles tells her. “I just wish I knew what that secret was,” she sighs.

In both episodes, “moving in together” is presented as a utopian dream just out of reach: Leslie agrees to live with Clay just before he tells her they might be brother and sister; Steven tells Luke that he and Danny will do the same just before Luke dies.

Dominique serves the same function in both eps: the official burster of bubbles. In The Affair, she shatters Jackie’s romantic illusion that she and her father will ever get back together; in The Aftermath, she pops Jeff’s balloon by telling him that Lady Ashley had already decided not to marry him before she died. Oh, and there's also a great scene where she tells Theodore Bickel where to get off: “I don’t drink with assassins.” “I could have you shot for that remark, Miss Devereaux,” he replies. “Of course, in your case, the bullets would be made of velvet.” Genius.

And the winner is ... The Aftermath

BONUS BEATS:


 
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Tony

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I think The Aftermath was one of Dynasty's highest rated episodes because everyone wanted to find out who survived and were very disappointed. I'm not sure that even helicopter shots could have rescued it - but it would have been a better way to introduce The Colbys and have Jason Colby introduced in the season opener instead of Episode 3 and planning with the military to rescue ALL the Carringtons.

It shows how circular Dynasty's plot lines really were, because in the next episode after The Affair, there's another wedding siege shortly followed by an episode called The Aftermath!
 
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James from London

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The Aftermath (07 Oct 87) v The Alarm (15 Jan 86)

This time, The Aftermath refers not just to the repercussions of a post-wedding hostage situation, but also Alexis’ car-meets-river interface and Fallon’s alien abduction. Consquently, Steven, Alexis and Fallon are all flashing back like there’s no tomorrow (but plenty of last season).

The first time we hear a verbal description of Fallon's close encounter, it is delivered by her COLBYS-era psychiatrist, Dr Paris, who is presumably repeating back what she has just told him off screen: "They took you aboard the spaceship. They examined you. You felt very removed ..." His straight-faced account gives an element of authority to her story. It establishes a base line of seriousness, making it clear that even if other characters may laugh in her face, the show itself is taking Fallon seriously. Sure enough, when she tells Jeff, his incredulity is funny and relatable ("Was he baking?" he asks when she tells him the alien smelled of cinnamon), but doesn't undermine the narrative itself. This way, we're free to laugh at the absurdity of the storyline, and by extension the show, or buy into it, or both, as the mood takes us. It's our choice. Given the same scenario on New DYNASTY, there would be no base line of seriousness, just a relentless barrage of wisecracks, probably characters dressing up as rubber aliens and eventually someone having a hysterical meltdown at the party of the week which is then splashed all over the media. We would be given no opportunity to buy into the story: either we find it hilarious or we're screwed.

Once Fallon tells Jeff what happened, the emphasis of the plot becomes less about the existence of extra-terrestrials and more about the state of their marriage — will he support her at this time of crisis, or has he finally had enough? By the time she's told him about the smell of cinnamon, he’s already started flirting with cousin Leslie so it's not looking hopeful.

Fallon describes feeling "somehow elated as we left the earth. I never felt more at peace." The idea of an otherworldly paradise recurs throughout the episode. Steven recalls Matthew wanting to take Krystle "to this place where supposedly everybody loved everybody else, but it was a place that existed only in his mind." He is also haunted by Matthew's voice telling him, “You can’t survive in Blake Carrington’s world.” In an visually exciting scene, he drives his car right up to the edge of a cliff, as if he's about to take a Thelma and Louise style leap into Matthew's non-judgemental, non-existent world, but at the last minute he reverses, literally and figuratively, by choosing to remain in Blake's world -- which means living a celibate life under the same roof as woman who’s in love with him. An odd choice, perhaps, but as the last known gay survivor in the DYNASTY-verse, his options are limited. Even Blake talks to Krystle about leaving Blake Carrington's world in search of “that private paradise that we've talked about so many, many times”, but in the end he decides to stay and run for governor. Two years earlier in The Alarm, Joel Abrigore also talks of spiriting Krystle away to a private paradise, but this time it’s no mere fantasy. “We’re going to South America," he informs her while snapping her new passport photos. "Soon we’ll lying on the beach together side by side basking in the sunshine.”

The Alarm is another Season 6 thrill ride. It feels like there's no-one at the helm of the episode and it's careering out of control. All our moral authorities are absent or powerless: Krystle isn’t Krystle, Blake is incapacitated, Jeff’s spun off to THE COLBYS, even Claudia's strapped behind a desk in Oklahoma to conceal the fact that she's ten months pregnant. Meanwhile, Adam and Alexis are too busy taking advantage of Blake's illness to question the reasons for it and Dominique is simply enjoying spinning round imperiously in his chair. (Re-re-watching these episodes, I find myself appreciating Dominique's imperiousness as never before.) If anyone’s pulling the strings, it’s mad director Joel. No wonder it feels like an episode of Batman with shoulder pads.

The evil look on Fake Krystle’s face as she poisons Blake is just too good. And the closing minutes of the ep are as exciting as ever. Adding to the surreal comic book vibe of the whole thing, in the time it takes Rita to walk from the breakfast room (or solarium or whatever it is) and up the staircase past the dying Blake, Sammy Jo appears to teleport from the mansion to Colby Co, where she grabs Steven, and back again. The final freeze frame of Krystlerita peering guiltily through a doorway has to be one the all-time best.

Both episodes feature an anonymous character curious about Alexis’s first on screen appearance at Blake's murder trial. In the final scene of The Aftermath, Alexis finds the weirdly accented man who rescued her from the river watching old news footage reporting "the appearance of a mystery witness" at "the third day of Denver's most celebrated trial of the last twenty years." In The Alarm, a glamourously posh Englishwoman, who talks about necrophilia and macadamia nuts in the same breath, chats to a newspaper archivist who can even remember what Alexis was wearing at the time. "Wasn't that something?" he gasps. "She was dressed in black and white with a picture hat, a black veil and dark glasses."

Dex Dexter line of the week: “Last time you glowed like that, I provided the electricity,” he tells Alexis in The Aftermath.

And the winner is ... The Alarm

BONUS BEATS


 
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James from London

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Alexis in Blunderland (14 Dec 88) v Alexis' Secret (18 Nov 81)

Although neither has been poisoned or replaced by a doppelganger this time, Blake and Krystle are each closed off from the viewer in Alexis in Blunderland just as they were in The Alarm — she by an illness that causes her to behave in ways she doesn't understand; him by a darkly sinister secret he is unwilling to disclose to anyone. All we know is that it has to do with a dead body found under the Carrington Lake and something mysterious in the Carrington cellar. Whereas Blake is ordinarily a font of moral guidance and patriarchal benevolence to those around him (including the audience), here, he's cold, sarcastic and evasive, most notably in a great scene where Sergeant Zorelli finds him brooding by the lake. He regards Zorelli's disingenuous fumbling Columbo act with the same contempt he shows when a spaced-out fella attempts to sell him a TV set outside the probation office in Alexis' Secret seven years earlier.

As if to counteract the murky-to-the-point-of-impenetrable mystery at the centre of Blunderland , everyone on the outskirts of the episode is far more relaxed, even playful, than we've ever seen them before. They laugh, they crack jokes, there's a general air of irreverence. “Krystle throwing plates? … I’ve known her for years — she’s never even been able to throw a tantrum!" Alexis remarks lightly. She has indeed known Krystle for years, seven to be precise. Their very first meeting occurs in Alexis' Secret when Krystle finds her cadging favours from the kitchen staff and summons her to one of the posher rooms in the house (i.e., the one that isn't the library or the dining room) for a confrontation. It's Alexis's first time inside the mansion since she was exiled from Denver and her eyes dart all over the place, mentally clocking what has and hasn't changed in her absence. At this point, she's still something of a mystery woman. "You want something," says Krystle accusingly. "Motives? That's an ugly implication," Alexis demurs. When pressed, she claims that she has returned to Denver to safeguard her son's inheritance. It's similarly early days for Cousin Sable in Alexis in Blunderland — we don't yet know what her motives are or even what she's doing in the opening credits — but she likewise plays the family loyalty card when asked about her preoccupation with Alexis's oil tankers: "They’re Colby ships. It’s only fitting they should end up with someone who has a right to that family name.”

Towards the end of Secret, Alexis drops a bombshell that makes her concern about Steven's future a little clearer: "Blake is not Fallon's father!" Much later on in Season 9, an equivalent revelation about the paternity of her own children will help explain why Sable's guns are currently trained on Alexis.

The ethereal Fallon who spoke earnestly of spaceships in Aftermath '87 is still in evidence in Alexis in Blunderland , only now the flashbacks of an encounter with a cinnamon-scented extra-terrestrial have been replaced by spooky sex dreams of a hunk on a mortuary slab. In other scenes, she's more like the minxy Fallon we see in Alexis' Secret. In that episode, Pamela Sue Martin's Fallon summons to Jeff to a motel for an impromptu picnic-and-baby-making session, despite spurning his advances earlier in the episode. Seven years later, Emma Samms' Fallon lies in wait for Jeff in the back of his car then startles him by provocatively stroking his face with her foot, in spite of their recent divorce.

Fallon and Sammy Jo's sudden laughing fit mid-way through their mud-fight over Jeff when they realise neither of them actually wants him is like the halfway house between traditional DYNASTY, where everything's taken terribly seriously, and New DYNASTY, where nothing really matters at all.

And the winner is ... Alexis' Secret

BONUS BEATS:


 
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