Watching DYNASTY in HD: Season 5, episode 10: Kristina

Michael Torrance

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So once upon a time (aka quite recently) Amazon recently started offering season 5 in HD, so I decided to buy it. It was weird why they only decided to offer this season in HD, but after all this was the highest rated one by Nielsen (it was the #1 show during the 1984-85 season) so maybe there is method to Bezos’ madness. The picture looks crisp, and I watched as the credits rolled by, and right after Joan Collins we see Jeffrey the turtle dive into the Filoli lily pond, followed by a nice shot of downtown Denver and then again Filoli at night this time from the lily pond’s corner--but no Jeffrey to be seen—a new mystery perhaps or does Gerard need to drain the lily pond for him?

So, the episode starts with Krystle unconscious--a state she has been in through every episode since mid-season 4--but this time Blake thinks it is because she fell down the stairs, and he tries to bring her back to consciousness. He tells Gerard not to call an ambulance because it might take too long to get there (watch out, Adriana, there is a new fortune teller in town) but instead get the car to the front. Dr. Jeanette, posing as a maid, determines Krystle is not having contractions, so Dr. Blake simply orders a blanket and a pillow. I am guessing there will be a pajama party at the foyer. In the next scene, Nicole Simpson is doing something shady with Claudia and the La Mirage safe, which Claudia does get suspicious about, and in the following scene Blake tries to get Krystle in the car but Krystle starts squealing, at which point Dr. Jeanette has an updated diagnosis that “she might be in labor” (Mrs. Gunnerson: some humble pie for Jeanette please). At that point Blake decided to take Krystle upstairs and call for an ambulance, and Blake orders they tell them “for god’s sakes to hurry.” Of course, leaving her on the floor would have been quicker, but Dr. Blake knows best. Except, his prophesy will soon—or much later, to be literal—come true. In the next scene Krystle is in bed and miraculously Claudia is there also. Now, believe it or not, when I sat down to watch the episode I just felt like remembering my adolescence and spending some HD time with the Denver Clan. But that scene where Claudia beams to the mansion while there is no ambulance in sight got me sour. Little did I know more would follow. Claudia asks Blake how often the contractions are, and Blake looks at his prototype Apple watch which has recorded these and tells her they come every two minutes. There are some scenes with Nicole Simpson asking about Fallon at the La Mirage bar and pretending she was a friend of hers, and Adam calls Steven and tells him to relay to Blake that it was all taken care of. Back at FiLoLi maternity ward, Krystle is having violent convulsions like the alien will rip her in two, and Claudia’s hair is already sweaty and messed up from Krystle’s labor.

Claudia keeps telling Krystle to push with a great smile on her face, and I am having a hard time discerning if Jerome Courtland wants to play it for laughs with a sadistic Claudia savoring the moment of her one-time nemesis suffering, or if it is simply lousy directing. Meanwhile the ambulance is seen rushing through an urban landscape, so clearly still far away from remote Carrington Central, though sadly the show used the footage to show that it was getting there as fast as it could. As Claudia announces she sees the baby’s head, Jeanette is also ecstatic while holding two plush folded white towels, totally unnecessary as Krystle’s water never broke. Krystle does not push as much as jumps up, and really there is no way anyone who has ever watched even a single delivery on film or TV thinks she is pushing the child out. Mrs. Gunnerson also looks trying to contain her pleasure at the spectacle, which could either be because Krystle was not as wonderful a mistress as her dear friend Alexis, or because we know how these Swedes are. Finally, Claudia exclaims it’s a girl, and we hear the girl cry. Both Jeanette and Hilda are happy, neither one having moved an inch all this time. Krystle smiles in a bizarre distorted grimace, and after Hilda brings a small blanket, Claudia determines that the baby that was crying before is now not breathing. Blake holds her in his arms and breathes into her then commands her to breathe, but when has any one of Blake’s children done as they were told?

Krystle begs God to not let this happen again, and Linda Evans’ acting is terrible. Just terrible. There can be no excuse because even with lousy direction (which there is) and lousy writing (check) she still brings an extra layer of awfulness with her “rendition” which tells me she really had checked out at this point. I mean in the same scene the lines and situation are just as ludicrous for Forsythe, but he manages to give whatever he can to keep it from keeling over, whereas Evans happily capsizes it. Meanwhile, the ambulance finally arrives and there are TWO servants to get the paramedics through door: one who opens the door for Gerard, and Gerard who waves at them to follow him. I thought Blake was having financial difficulties because of the south China sea oil leases, but as dearly departed Fallon used to say (plagiarizing Fitzgerald), the rich are different. Dr. Harris never arrived by the way, so between him and the ambulance that arrived there hours later, it was a complete failure of the Denver medical system. And if the 1% are treated like that, what is the chance for the rest of us? At Cheney Hospital (perhaps named for Dick Cheney, thus the priority given to military contracts over treating civilians), Blake asks Dr. Harris if Krystle is going to be alright. Dr. Harris says she had a minor concussion, so he “can’t give any guarantees” even though “her vital signs are stable” and he “anticipates no problems.” So, what kind of a quack is this who, despite saying himself he anticipates no problems from a minor concussion, cannot give any guarantees? Why do the writers have to push so much melodrama into every darn freaking sentence?

Some more things happen which I could care less about (like Jeff claiming Blake does not approve of his new “playboy lifestyle,” which since we have only seen Jeff with Nicole and maybe another woman before that, I assume means Blake accuses him of changing his porn habit from Penthouse to Playboy) and then we are at Colbyco and Alexis is in a brilliant red dress and a puffy wig in all her HD glory. Steven does not want to go to Santa Barbara with PR man Luke Fuller, and he thinks Luke can handle it all by himself, but Alexis says Luke Fuller is not a symbol like he is, and he is after all a Carrington. Which would make him a symbol of Denver Carrington, but maybe the HD transfer is not as good as I thought.

Speaking of Luke Fuller… What a gigantic fail the whole arc of Luke Fuller and Steven-stick-up-his-b*tt-Carrington, which started two episodes ago, has been. Also, it is beyond childish in execution. It’s like the characters have borrowed the writers’ notes and so can tell both what is in each other’s minds and the future. In episode 8, “The Secret,’ when Luke first introduces himself to Steven, Luke explains that he needs Steven’s signature for a PR release regarding Alexis’ release from prison. Can there be anything more important from a PR standpoint for Colbyco at the time? Yet mysteriously Steven blows him off (not in the good way) by saying “tomorrow” and when Luke stresses the urgency, Steven has to yell “I said, tomorrow.” Steven regrets it and acquiesces by signing it, at which point Luke fixes his tie. Well, then Claudia walks in, and instantly she is alarmed. After she invites Steven for lunch “just the two of us” (how do couples usually have lunch in Denver? Orgy style?) and Steven says he has something to do, she looks severely disappointed and concerned with the “my marriage is in trouble” look. Later in the episode, when Steven explains he has work to do this weekend, Claudia hysterically says that he must make time for her and Danny, to which Steven replies: “Claudia, he was only straightening my tie.” I mean, where does this come from? Steven, who has been married to two different women, has such a powerful gaydar he instantly figured out Luke Fuller to be homosexual? And both he and Claudia took the fixing the tie move as the daring sexual come-on Luke intended it to be unbeknownst to the rest of us? The scene ends with these dramatic zoom-ins and the signature “oh no” music, as Claudia closes her eyes in some emotional agony. Later in episode 8 Steven looks like he wants to screw this event out of Claudia’s mind, but wouldn’t you know it, there is an oil spill, Alexis can’t be found, and Steven has to save the day. Claudia acts as if she knows Luke Fuller caused the oil spill and Alexis has no serious reason to be out of reach, blithely unaware that Alexis is suing Nolan Miller at that very moment, for having her walk around her head with the bastard child of a bow tie and a flip flop in a scene with Amanda.



So off Claudia goes to La Mirage, where she meets the original Captain Apollo, who looks quite handsome and full of spark, and I wonder why I did not remember him more vividly. Damn you Billy Campbell, you had seduced me as teen same as you did Steven!

In the next episode, (Episode 9: “Domestic Intrigue”) C̶a̶p̶t̶a̶i̶n̶ ̶A̶p̶o̶l̶l̶o̶ Dean Caldwell is telling Claudia what a great woman she is holding her hands while doing so, and in walks Steven. The couple talk it over and Steven seems to get over it, until the next morning when he sees Claudia reading a magazine article about Captain Apollo and his “blazing rocket” and the phallic imagery that accompanied Claudia’s dreams overnight is too much for the closeted anal-retentive Carrington scion, so he is off to Colbyco, where a dangerously unibrowed Luke Fuller invites him for breakfast. Steven rejects Luke’s sausage offer, and as Luke leaves the office telling him he knows where to find him if he changes his mind, Steven gives him that “checking out” stare we all would love to give Billy Campbell. So back to episode 10, ominously titled “Kristina,” Claudia surprises Steven in his office. When he tells her that he is going to Santa Barbara, she expresses her wish she could go but she has to stay, “you understand.” Then Luke walks in, and after Claudia realizes they are going on a trip together, Steven asks hers: “haven’t you learned to trust me yet?” How exactly would she have learned that? What other gay men has he come across and resisted them for her own irresistible charms?

After Alexis goes with a gazillion gifts for the new baby to the hospital and picks a fight with Blake, Blake waits for Krystle to wake up. She wants to see the baby and he tells her they must wait until Krystle gets stronger. Krystle asks if there is anything wrong with the baby, and Blake, whom the doctors informed the baby is fighting for her life, tells her there is “nothing wrong. Honest. Trust me.” See, Steven? That is how you build trust. It takes a series of lies over time, not just an occasional one every now and then.

While the whole episode is insipid, somehow the writers bring their A game with Dex and Amanda—one of Marchetta’s pet arcs, together with Moldavia. Their scene at the fake balcony where Dex psyches Amanda by moving in to kiss her sparkles, as does the dialogue: Dex: “What’s the matter? Has Scarlett changed her mind about fun and games at her momma’s sky-top plantation?” Amanda retorts “when someone calls my bluff, I guess I throw in my hand.” Dex: “If teasing is a hobby of yours little girl, I’d give it up and learn how to make brownies instead.” Amanda completely as a teenager protests with her arms akimbo “I am twenty” to which Dex has the last word: “well in that case, you can bake a whole big cake.”

Speaking of unwanted advances, as Claudia and Steven are on the phone, Luke Fuller comes to his bungalow door (@Alexis has discussed Luke’s advances in another thread). They both want to pour in some club soda, only Luke pours his on Steven’s shirts and then offers to rub h̶i̶m̶ it off, but Steven angrily refuses and tells him he will go change his shirt and come back. Luke looks exasperated, as if either his trick failed or he hates how uncomfortable Steven is with him, and Steven goes to the bedroom and looks at himself in the mirror as if he does not recognize who he is, which has been our reaction since Al Corley left.

Now, after Evans’ Krystle, Coleman is the second big beef I have with this episode. Sure, the writing around the plot is not that clever: the storyline is as if a (theoretically) straight man discovers for the first time he has sexual feelings for another man as opposed to Steven “make everyone say ‘Steven is gay’ Carrington” being attracted to another man. But obviously this time the show does want to go there. Yet Coleman’s uneasiness is all over, even if his public feelings about Steven’s homosexuality had not been known. Decades later Coleman did play a gay man successfully in The Office. Was it because that was a comedy and he accepted it for laughs? Was it because he was no longer on the #1 rated show on TV and too big for his britches? Or had he finally matured? I do not know. But here, he is a disaster, and I cannot blame his performance on Marchetta’s writing or the execs or ABC or what not.

In other earth-shattering news, Krystle decides to change her daughter’s name from the agreed-upon Emma to Kristina, and Amanda visits Blake at the hospital. Oxenberg is not a great actress, mind you, certainly not Pamela Sue Martin, but she does have a chemistry with Forsythe as her father (same as before with Dex) and she just brightens the screen—and I say that as a gay man. Whatever raw quality she had, the show benefitted from her even as her acting grew in the role these two years, and to think she could be replaced with the first person off the street and into a casting call was a big slap in the viewers’ face.

And the following sequence is the pure domain of daytime soaps: Claudia calls from some phone booth (why?), Luke Fuller walks into Steven’s unlocked bungalow while Steven is in the shower, Luke answers the phone, and informs Claudia her husband is in the shower. Luke does that donned in Adidas sweatpants, looking quite yummy but perhaps wearing European sportswear as all these decadent homos do over there, and after a concerned Claudia walks around in the strip mall (there have been more outside scenes this season, I must say), she passes outside Dean’s gallery--of all the phone booths in all the strip malls--and he invites her in, and long story short, they kiss and eventually sleep together. No wait, it is worth spending some time here. Before they hook up, Claudia has a scene discussing how she was thinking of Kristina, and people she has lost, and how she might lose Steven. The field is ripe for harvesting here, for a writer who knows the show. Claudia has a history of mental illness, and she met Steven under a strained situation, and her relationship with him and Krystle are inextricably bound with the loss of Lindsay and Matthew. There could be, with good writing and direction, a totally believable story of Claudia getting unhinged because she is easily swayed by her inner demons. But Marchetta and the rest of the team know nothing (or care nothing) about all these. Instead, we get a totally carbon copy story of misunderstandings leading to cheating.

So, Jeff finds a picture of Peter DevilBus who is Nicole Simpson’s former husband--first Peter, then O.J., she sure knows how to pick them. Then the doctor informs Blake and Krystle that they did blood tests and Kristina looks jaundiced (which is a visual symptom and needs no blood test—when will the Carringrtons realize this place is full of witch doctors?) and Krystle repeats questionably “jaundiced” same as she repeated “Palazzo?” either because of her limited vocabulary or her limited understanding. Blake asks the doctor to ignore his wife and go on, and the doctor tells them the baby is in danger. Angela Morley cues in the drums, Evans cues in Krystle crying on Blake’s shoulder, and on screen come the credits. And they lived in HD ever after.
 
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Zara

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Who says Fallon's aliens was hers? Maybe they come to get the alien hiding and crawling out of Krystle.

An expecting father of a certain age doesn't ask questions, you know. Alien baby or not.
 

Zara

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I love it!
And I agree about the chemistry between Forsythe and Amanda/CO.

But you will go nuts analyzing more episodes lika this.

Pretty please, do ALR part 2 and The Portrait. :D
 

Michael Torrance

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I love it!
And I agree about the chemistry between Forsythe and Amanda/CO.

But you will go nuts analyzing more episodes lika this.
The sad thing is, I did sit down expecting to just spend 43 minutes of HD 80s DYNASTY nostalgia. But then the episode happened. :rolleyes:
 
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