The myth that Season 1 'bombed'

Snarky's Ghost

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In 1980, ABC wanted its own DALLAS -- then easily the biggest show on the planet.

So when the Shapiros and Aaron Spelling put together DYNASTY, which began airing on Mondays nights in the States following the end of the football season that following January, the pilot was #11 for the week in the ratings, and a couple of other episodes wound up in the Nielsen's weekly Top 10.

Overall, Season 1 ranked at #28 for the 1980-81 TV years, not a bad number for the first season of a drama series, especially when cable and home video had no real presence, the Internet didn't exist, there were no streaming services, and the audience was nowhere near as divided as it is today with all the modern choices.

And yet ABC executives were so disappointed in the audience showing for the first season of DYNASTY that they almost cancelled it, leaving Spelling and company to scramble to obtain a renewal, a renewal which might not have happened had Spelling not been the network's main source of programming and the leverage that provided.

Sometimes having greater aspirations for your new show can handicap it when the returns don't come in as fast as the brass would like.

No doubt, the series did need to pick up pacing and, along the way, Joan Collins, and the increase in wardrobe, for Season 2 to climb -- and a switch to Wednesday nights was likely a good idea, too.

But Season 1 didn't bomb. Even if, as Linda noted, the show needed "more zip."

 

Michael Torrance

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The first season was a good season for a new show--keep in mind, the Dallas miniseries of 5 episodes was at #44, and its first full season #15. But the problem was that by the time Dynasty premiered as a winter replacement, Dallas (now in its third full season) was #1. So ABC wanted, and Esther Shapiro with Aaron Spelling had promised, its own #1 soap opera, which by that time Dallas had become.

I think if any cancellation was truly considered (frankly that has always seemed to me TV land myth to make the Pollocks and Alexis appear even more deus-ex-machina) or if the network did not like the ratings, it was because the show had been given a much bigger budget AND was already over budget as they had to reshoot the whole pilot when George Peppard was fired. I think the brass was feeling the heat to deliver that top show, so they created the PR hurricane of "we are signing up a big name for Blake's ex-wife." They paraded all sorts of names around, even had some start negotiations, and they ended up with somebody who was anything but a big name. But it ended up to be just what they needed to create Dynasty frenzy.

As I've said in other threads, Alexis' story certainly helped Dynasty (it provided a unified overall narrative for that season, and also made Cecil Colby relevant and a real adversary) but it also led to them burning the plot candle from both ends and thus twice as fast.
I think the real problem was that once they got a hit show in their hands, they did not examine what made them a hit show in substance (good plotting, bulls-eye casting, many unique characters) but focused on what a #1 show should look like. Thus their emphasis as many in the forum have noted on having the right brand car chain, what the actors' hair looked like, and of course the gowns which ended up being Dynasty for the world-wide audience.
 

Willie Oleson

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(frankly that has always seemed to me TV land myth to make the Pollocks and Alexis appear even more deus-ex-machina)
Indeed. Until, say, a year ago I had never heard of this supposed cancellation. Not saying it isn't true, but sometimes I wonder "where does that information come from".
As I've said in other threads, Alexis' story certainly helped Dynasty
I didn't think Dynasty needed to "be helped" or "saved" because season 1 was a soap masterpiece from start to finish. It was just the perfect timing for Alexis to appear. And what an entrance!
In season 2, Alexis slithered (or "circle like a vulture", as Blake put it) and it was fascinating.
But maybe she still wasn't JR enough, and I *believe* that was the purpose of this character. Cecil was great, but maybe not convincing or characteristic enough as the Main Nemesis.
 

Snarky's Ghost

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Indeed. Until, say, a year ago I had never heard of this supposed cancellation. Not saying it isn't true, but sometimes I wonder "where does that information come from".
The producers said it years ago. Not that they always tell the truth.
Willie Oleson said:
I didn't think Dynasty needed to "be helped" or "saved" because season 1 was a soap masterpiece from start to finish. It was just the perfect timing for Alexis to appear. And what an entrance!
In season 2, Alexis slithered (or "circle like a vulture", as Blake put it) and it was fascinating.
Yes. Just good timing.
 
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