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    THE SPIN-OFF

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

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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

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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

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James from London

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All Fall Down (THE COLBYS, 29 Jan 87) v All Hands on Dex (DYNASTY, 15 Feb 89)

THE COLBYS is such a fascinating paradox. With its never-ending triangles and repetitive storytelling, it’s a daytime soap at heart, but with all the trappings of a night time one thrown at it: no-expense-spared glamour, legendary film stars, an orchestral score dialled up to 11 and the all-under-one-roof soap trope taken to incestuous extremes: Jason, Sable, Frankie, Jeff, Fallon, Miles and Channing are all currently sitting down to breakfast together. This ep is strictly set-bound — it never ventures outside the studio — yet all of the sets (the occasional motel room or hospital corridor notwithstanding) are lavishly decorated, so it feels somehow cheap and expensive at the same time.

There is no shortage of desperate, needy women obsessively in love with men who are in love with someone else. Reading that Jason was almost shot, Sable leaps out of Zach Powers’s bed and dashes to his side. “Without you, I'm nothing,” she weeps. Jason is aghast. “No-one should be that important to you,” he says. She then spies the engagement ring he has put on her sister’s finger and makes one of her many, many brilliant humiliated-but-still-glamorous exits. Meanwhile, Adrienne Cassidy, whose estranged husband Cash was shot in Jason's place, is going through the same thing at Colby Memorial Hospital, stubbornly clinging to her man's side even though she knows he only has eyes for Monica.

There are no flashbacks or dreams for Fallon in this ep, which makes a change. Instead, she’s got a pregnant Rapunzel thing going on. “Sable and Channing and Miles — these people, this house. I’ve gotta get out of here … I can’t stay locked up in this castle forever!” she gasps breathily at Jeff. His response is great, and foreshadows how he’ll react when she'll tells him about cinnamon-scented aliens next season: “It’s time you grew up. Ever since I married you, you’ve had everything your way. You married me, you divorced me and you ran out … If you wanna run, go ahead and run, but this time I’m not running after you!” He storms off, she follows, but instead of losing her own marbles, she trips on LB's and tumbles soapily down the stairs. Miles finds her at the bottom, looks up to see his new wife Channing at the top and yells, "What have you done?!” And so the Colby carousel continues …

Back in Denver two seasons later, Fallon's ditched the frumpy maternity smocks and stiff hairdo and looks fifteen years younger. Instead of Jeff, she pisses off Blake by siding with cop boyfriend Zorelli against him — and what a cool couple they make, throwing spaghetti at the ceiling of Zorelli's Cagney and Lacey style apartment then eating cereal in bed (cinnamon-flavoured, no doubt).

Jeff has a great office showdown in each ep — in the first, he accuses Zach Powers of murder while Zach is getting his hair cut (the DYNASTY-verse equivalent of Lilimae’s home perm scene on KNOTS, perhaps); in the second, he argues with Adam — I can’t remember what about — and ends up throwing him around the room. Great fun.

Whereas Sable is all emotion and indecision in All Fall Down (first she won’t marry Zach, then she will, then she’s not sure …), she’s all vengeance and scheming in All Hands on Dex as she gloats about stealing Alexis’s tankers.

Line of the week: “I can forgive anything but you and that unspeakable slut" — Alexis to Dex about Sable.

And the winner is … by a whisker … All Fall Down

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Amanda (DYNASTY, 14 Nov 84) v And Baby Makes Four (THE COLBYS, 27 Nov 86)

There are loads of juicy “Scenes from a DYNASTY-verse Marriage” in these two episodes where couples argue in the privacy of their bedrooms, usually about a secret one spouse has been keeping from the other. On DYNASTY, Claudia/Krystle/Dominique is upset that Steven/Blake/Brady didn’t tell her that he saw Alexis kill Mark Jennings/is continuing to deal with sleazy Hal Lombard/is having serious financial problems. On THE COLBYS, Miles and Channing fight about Fallon, while down the hall Fallon and Jeff fight about Miles, and Cash and Adrienne Cassidy check into a hotel and immediately start fighting about their amazingly convoluted back story which includes the fact that Cash’s ex-mistress is the mother of their son but doesn’t realise it.

"I'm afraid we're in for a very stormy time ahead," warns Blake ominously when Krystle refuses to blindly support him no matter who he chooses to do business with — a principled stance that foreshadows New Cristal’s during the second half of New DYNASTY’s first season, and we all know how that turned out (well, those of us that made it that far, anyway).

“What happened to that cute little group with the purple and green hair that you were managing?” Dominique asks Brady. It’s tempting to view the Devereaux-Lloyds as the stepping stone between Tilly and Sam, the caterers of the original Ewing barbecue and the only previous example of two black people actually talking to each other in an ‘80s soap, and Cookie and Lucious, the feuding music and money-making couple at the heart of EMPIRE.

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Amanda kicks off with Alexis panicking in prison, having just been convicted of murder, and ends with her dressed like a Russian ice-skater while a young Lady Di-lookalike calls her Mother. Two years later in And Baby Makes Four, Miles and Jeff both insist that they are the father of Fallon’s unborn kid. (Miles seeks legal advice from Sable’s attorney Arthur Cates who is played by Peter White, the only surviving actor from both the original stage and film versions of The Boys in the Band, which was written by the great Mart Crowley … who is credited with the teleplay of this episode of THE COLBYS.)

Claudia glides through Amanda earnestly advising a horny Steven and a drunken Jeff that they need to deal with their feelings, but all they wanna do is get shit-faced and have it off with her. Claudia rejecting her gay husband’s sexual advances is interestingly complicated, while Miles rejecting Channing’s (even after she promises to “do all the work”) seems downright hurtful. Conversely, Bliss is well pleased when Kolya shimmies up her drainpipe, so to speak, but less happy when they are caught by her father’s security team. “Breaking in, sneaking into my daughter’s bed? Not in my house!” Moses decrees.

And the winner is ... Amanda

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Anniversary Waltz (THE COLBYS, 15 May 86) v The Announcement (DYNASTY, 14 Oct 87)

During Amanda, Adam and Dex set their differences aside long enough to become super sleuths and crack the Mark Jennings murder case. During Anniversary Waltz, Jeff and Miles set their differences aside long enough to become super sleuths and crack the Mahoney murder case (or at least, prove that Miles didn't kill him). While the discovery of a photo of a man in a wig exonerated Alexis, it’s the discovery of a monogrammed tyre mallet that clears Miles. Of the two stories, the DYNASTY one is the bigger deal (I'm not even sure who Mahoney is), but THE COLBYS' plot wins points for poignancy as it brings warring brothers Miles and Jeff together, if only briefly — at one point they even hug.

With Jason holding a tape of Sable getting intimate with his arch-nemesis Zach and Sable planning a surprise anniversary party for Jason, the two of them are set on a collision course very reminiscent of Den and Angie’s classic divorce-papers-on-Christmas-Day episode of EASTENDERS. Following the inevitable thrilling explosion (“What a waste my life has been — twenty-nine years of loving you, and you loved her all the time!” seethes Angie - I mean, Sable), Sable seeks refuge on Zach’s yacht where he presents her with a dress and asks her to put it on. Jumping forward two seasons to The Announcement, Sean Rowan wakes up in the Carlton Hotel to find Alexis has bought him a whole wardrobe full of clothes to wear. He feigns outrage ("You come on very strong, lady, very strong ... but don’t play games with me — I’m nobody’s puppet!”), but it’s only to engineer one of those “anger turns to passion” moments so he can take her to bed. Likewise, Zach has Sable put on the dress just so that he can peel it off her again. Zach and Sean have something else in common: they both want revenge on the family they blame for their father’s suicide.

Blake launches his campaign to become governor in The Announcement and Krystle promises him her unconditional support in a way she refused to do when he was rebuilding his empire in Amanda. My favourite scene of the ep is Fallon and Steven discussing spaceships, most specifically Jeff's inability to believe in them. “He’s a great guy, but if there aren’t any lines on the pad he gets very nervous, and you have always coloured outside the lines," Steven tells his sister.

Line of the week comes right at the end of THE COLBYS. “You murdered your wife!” snarls Zach at Jason as Sable lies on the deck of the yacht, bleeding prettily from a head wound.

And the winner is ... Anniversary Waltz

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James from London

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Answered Prayers (THE COLBYS, 26 Feb 87) v The Arraignment (DYNASTY, 05 Nov 86)

It’s a bad week for Team Sable. First, Miles finds out that Jeff, and not he, is the father of Fallon’s baby. “My long lost brother — everything was fine until you came, everyone was fine. Why couldn’t you stay lost?” he snaps, bitterly echoing Fallon's lament in Enter Alexis four years earlier. "Everything was fine before she came here," she said then, also to Jeff but referring to Krystle. "That wedding, that damn wedding! If that hadn’t happened, Steven would still be in New York, Ted Dinard would still be alive, that miserable trial wouldn’t have happened and my mother would have stayed put with her margarita and mariachi crowd instead of coming back here to haunt my father."

Then comes the moment Sable has been putting off and putting off — the signing of hers and Jason’s divorce papers so that he can marry her sister. ("That wedding, that damn wedding!") “I do know how ridiculous I’ve made myself for you," she tells him tearfully. "There are smiles and whispers when I enter a room. Did you know that?” Seeing her so tense, no self-confidence, the papers-signing scene feels like a dramatised representation of Abba's ‘The Winner Takes it All’ — a special extended version with an additional verse at the end where Agnetha suddenly begs Bjorn not to marry Frida. But marry Frida Frankie Jason does — or at least, he would have done were it not for them spotting his dead brother/her dead husband sitting in the second row of the congregation, causing the bride-to-be to faint at the altar. Katherine Ross, of course, is no stranger to interrupted nuptials. Will Phillip Colby turn out to be her Benjamin Braddock? Tune in next week to find out! (Or rather don’t, because the next episode starts with a C which means I won’t get to it for about eight months.)

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Parts of The Arraignment feels like a dummy run for DYNASTY Season 9 with Blake under suspicion for a crime he didn't commit (burning down La Mirage rather than killing Roger Grimes) and Krystle suffering from a mysterious malady (which manifests itself as dizzy spells rather than an uncontrollable desire to throw plates). This, however, does not prevent her, in the grand tradition of previous DYNASTY-verse detective double acts — Jeff and Miles, Dex and Adam — from teaming up with Dominique to investigate the fire and clear Blake’s name. This time, the exonerating piece of evidence is not a tyre mallet or a 10x8 of Neil McVane, just Jackie Devereaux’s evocative description of Claudia with “flames shooting out from behind her”, which is perhaps a fitting final image for Denver's very own Joan of Arc.

While Sable seeks refuge from Jason’s wedding with Zach Powers in Morocco, an angry Alexis descends upon Dex’s construction site to shout at him for siding with Blake over some deal or other. In both cases, Mother Nature intervenes. As a shooting star appears in the Moroccan sky (no prizes for guessing what Sable wishes for), a thunderstorm in Denver means Alexis is stranded with Dex overnight (no prizes for guessing where she ends up).

And the winner is ... Answered Prayers

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Willie Oleson

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The Colbys love-triangle-drama is a bit like playing a Dynasty LP at 78 rpm.
Both Alexis and Sable aren't fools for playing by the rules, we can understand why they did what they did but that doesn't make it right.
Both Blake and Jason are driven by two strong emotions: they don't want to be with their first wife anymore; they want to be with their second wife (-to-be).
There's a significant time-jump between Alexis and Krystle and in The Colbys it's happening simultaneously.

Sable's machinations removed Jason's layer of complacency, and with True Love & Happiness on the horizon (well, only a swimming pool away) he understood he simply couldn't be in that situation anymore.
At the same time Sable was desperate enough to accept a marriage-on-paper only, and by doing so she basically copied Jason's weakness.

a shooting star appears in the Moroccan sky
But was it a star?
 

James from London

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The Arrest (DYNASTY, 28 Sep 83) v The Avenger (DYNASTY, 02 Jan 85)

The cabin fire at beginning of The Arrest is so great, it’s pure Saturday Morning Picture Show stuff. Everyone is angry with everyone else in this season opener: Krystle rejects Blake, Blake snarls at Steven, Alexis accuses Adam of trying to kill her, Kirby is horrible to everyone - even Jeanette and no-one is ever horrible to Jeanette. It’s a good job Blake and Adam patch up their differences halfway through the ep otherwise no-one would even be talking to each other.

“If I’d have died, who would they have buried?” Krystle wonders after waking up in the hospital after the fire. “I don’t know who I am.” This feels like a continuation of the same identity crisis that began in Acapulco when she discovered, after two years of believing she was Mrs Blake Carrington, that she was still Mrs Mark Jennings. Doubts surrounding Krystle’s identity will recur, first when she is replaced by an impersonator in Season 6, then when her mind is taken over by mad scientists in the Reunion, and continuing on into New DYNASTY where there are multiple Cristals, real and fake.

Alexis’s response to the fire also foreshadows New DYNASTY. When she wakes up, her first thought is for her face and she reaches for a mirror to make sure she hasn’t been disfigured. Then she accuses Adam of starting the fire. He is innocent, but Fake New Adam will be responsible for the equivalent “Who started the fire?” cliffhanger in 2018 and Real New Adam will actually burn his mother’s face off the following year.

Lieutenant Merrill, the cop investigating the fire, tells Blake their paths have crossed before: “I was at your house the night of that incident with the friend of your son’s, Ted Dinard.” I’m a sucker for characters photoshopping themselves into past storylines, like Cousin Ginny telling Krystle in Season 9 how she stood outside the Carrington gates on the day she married Blake.

When Krystle chooses to return to La Mirage rather than the mansion after leaving the hospital, it’s kind of a big deal. When Claudia moves out of the mansion into La Mirage a season later in The Avenger, nobody seems to notice apart from Adam.

Whereas The Arrest is dark, urgent soap, with the orchestral score going nineteen to the dozen, The Avenger feels more romantic, more Old Hollywood. A lot of that is due to Rock Hudson’s mere presence, but also to Dominique and Brady just sitting around making enigmatic threats while looking incredibly glamorous.

Blake is enjoyably tyrannical in both eps, refusing to allow Steven to raise his own child in The Arrest and then insisting that Krystle should only be allowed raise her child, and not fanny about with Arabian horses, in The Avenger. He’s also dead jealous, first of Mark Jennings whom he has arrested for starting the fire, and then of Daniel Reece with whom he tries to start a pissing contest, but Rock Hudson effortlessly outclasses him. It's always fascinating to see Blake on the back foot.

Steven’s sexuality given such narrow parameters in which to express itself, by both the other characters and the DYNASTY-verse itself — he's not even allowed to live with another man platonically — that it ends up manifesting itself in distorted ways, such as when he bursts into Claudia’s hotel room in The Avenger and threatens to rape her: “You're my wife and it's time you started acting like it!” When she boots him out ("If you have to prove that you're a man, you find somebody else!”), he seeks refuge in a bar ... only to come face to face with Luke Fuller. It’s like some weird nightmare where every time he comes into contact with someone, he experiences a different kind of sexual shame.

The Carrington Lake, specifically the pretty bridge over it, which I never really noticed prior to Season 9, is visible in both episodes. In The Arrest, it’s near the Carrington Stables where pregnant Kirby plan to throw herself off a horse in a tribute to Krystle’s Season 2 miscarriage, while in The Avenger it appears in one of the establishing shots of Delta Rho.

A party in mid-flow at La Mirage, two characters meeting in Fallon's office for a private conversation which soon turns into an argument, a shocking phone call that interrupts them and changes everything — usually, it’s Blake and Alexis, but in The Avenger it’s Blake and Dominique. She’s threatening to sue him over something or other when the news reaches them that Tom Carrington is dying in Sumatra.

And the winner is ... The Arrest

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Willie Oleson

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I’m a sucker for characters photoshopping themselves into past storylines
Alexis’s response to the fire also foreshadows New DYNASTY. When she wakes up, her first thought is for her face and she reaches for a mirror to make sure she hasn’t been disfigured. Then she accuses Adam of starting the fire. He is innocent, but Fake New Adam will be responsible for the equivalent “Who started the fire?” cliffhanger in 2018 and Real New Adam will actually burn his mother’s face off the following year.
O yeah!
 

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The Baby (DYNASTY, 03 Mar 82) v The Ball (DYNASTY, 06 Feb 85)

After pregnant Fallon crashes her car in The Baby, a frantic Alexis clambers up a hill in her gold disco outfit looking for help — possibly the same hill Mark Jennings carried her up after the cabin fire in The Arrest.

Blake and Krystle are having one of their blissful, lying on a rug in front of an opening fire kissy-kissy reunions when they are interrupted by an emergency “Oh my God! Which hospital?” phone call, just as Miles and Channing will be after Jason’s near-shooting in All Fall Down. In the episode following All Fall Down, Fallon will have her COLBYS' baby without knowing who its father is; now she has her DYNASTY one without knowing who her own father is.

After the cabin fire, Krystle woke up in hospital questioning her own identity (“If I’d have died, who would they have buried? I don’t know who I am”). Fallon does the same thing after giving birth. “I used to be Fallon Carrington. Now I’m nothing,” she weeps. Three years later in The Ball, Nicole Simpson will attempt to become Fallon herself by recreating her red-dress-in-the-mirror-pose from the opening credits. Jeff catches her and is horrified. The opposite scenario will occur on New DYNASTY when New Blake actively encourages New New Cristal to dress up in his dead wife’s clothes.

In both of these eps, Claudia struggles against identities that have been imposed on her by men. “You’ve made a prostitute out of me,” she tells Cecil Colby in The Baby. “I won’t be a screen for you to hide behind,” she tells Steven in The Ball.

I can’t help seeing everything through the prism of Season 4 of THE CROWN at the moment so Steven yelling at new wife Sammy Jo for refusing to get out of bed the morning after making an exhibition of herself on the dance-floor is Charles losing it with Diana for much the same reason. The real (fictional) thing comes along in The Ball with Prince Michael of Moldavia and Amanda meeting cute when she mistakes him for a waiter.

While Alexis tries to bribe Sammy Jo into a signing a statement that her marriage to Steven was never consummated, Luke Fuller suggests to Claudia that her marriage to Steven is equally doomed. “I’ve walked the same path. I know where it leads,” he tells her (Indeed, the path for gay men in “Blake Carrington’s world” leads to only two possible destinations: celibacy or death.) Just as Sammy Jo boasts that she and Steven have done it “lots and lots”, Claudia insists that “he enjoys making love to me.” Despite this, neither of Steven’s marriages is working out too well: Sammy Jo allows herself to be bought off by Alexis while Claudia refuses to return to Steven until he chooses between her and Luke.

Seeing Tony the groundsman cleaning his shotgun in the Carrington kitchen “triggers” a flashback for Krystle and she asks him about the day she was thrown from her horse. Kirby will quiz Jeanette about the same incident in The Arrest — you get the sense it had almost as much impact of on the staff as on the family. Having realised that Alexis deliberately fired the shotgun to cause her miscarriage, Krystle takes the gun from Tony and goes off to confront her. In The Ball, it's her turn to go shooting, this time with Daniel Reece, and she only succeeds in hitting her target by imagining it’s Alexis, who is currently with Blake in Acapulco (played by Tracy Island). Then she is thrown from her horse again, but this time Daniel is at her side and they share that kiss.

Alexis keeps busy during in The Baby. In the space of one afternoon, she exiles her son’s trashy wife from Denver (she’ll be much more approving of her daughter’s choice of love interest in The Ball: “One Christmas when she was a little girl, she asked Santa Claus for a country — I wonder if he's about to deliver?”), gets beaten up by Krystle and learns that she (Krystle) is a bigamist.

And the winner is ... The Baby

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The Ball (DYNASTY, 17 Dec 86) v Battle Lines (DYNASTY, 16 Feb 83)

This is the second episode named The Ball. The ball in the first The Ball (1985) was a somewhat anonymous, not-all-that-posh affair in an Acapulco hotel. The ball in this The Ball is a far grander, more traditional bash held at the Carrington mansion — or Colby mansion, as I guess it is now that Alexis is living there. Her party isn’t that different from the ones Blake and Krystle have thrown in the past, save for a marked increase in ornamental feathers, a general or two on the guest list, and a slightly more modern choice of orchestral muzak (‘What a Difference a Day Makes’ and ‘Arthur’s Theme (Best That You Can Do)’ in place of Porter and Gershwin.)

Alexis watched gleefully as Amanda danced with Prince Michael at the '85 ball, but is a tad more circumspect when Adam introduces her to Dana Waring at this one. Meanwhile, her association with Amanda’s latest Michael, Culhane, prompts disapproval from both Blake (“You’re dealing with a man who’s destroying your daughter’s life!”) and Dex, who accuses her of dancing with Culhane to make him jealous. Adam makes an even more salacious accusation three years earlier in Battle Lines when he suggests Alexis has “a yen” for her step-nephew-cum-ex-son-in-law Jeff whom she tries to spirit away to a private clinic in the Swiss Alps (the same one where Krystle will later be brainwashed, I like to imagine) before anyone can find out who was behind his mysterious poisoning. Blake forcibly prevents her, resulting in a minor tussle between them and one of Alexis’s all-time great, teeth-baring lines: “How I hate to see you choking on your bloody arrogance!”

In both episodes, she has Blake on the ropes. In The Ball, she’s taken both his home and his business while in Battle Lines, she’s gained control Jeff’s share of Denver Carrington and intends to merge the company with Colby Co and run them together. Andrew Laird, who still thinks of Alexis as a dilettante part-time painter rather than a business mogul, laughs aloud at the idea.

In each instance, Blake comes out fighting but has more success in The Ball where, having enlisted the aid of two fine ginger character actors, brothel madam Cora Van Hewson and reformed drunk Dan Franklin, he is able to prove that Alexis and Ben perjured themselves on the witness stand, and forces them to return him his fortune. In Battle Lines, however, the kind of medical and legal bureaucracy that characters more commonly run up against on KNOTS LANDING prevent him from both getting an injunction against Alexis’s takeover and finding out exactly what poisoned Jeff.

Also at the '86 ball, a male guest (nameless in the scene but billed, appropriately enough, as Randy in the end credits) makes a coded pass at Steven by name-checking the DYNASTY-verse’s two surviving gay men: “We met at Chris Deegan’s party. You were in a big conversation with Bart Fallmont.” Steven is horrified. “In my family’s house!” he exclaims angrily, perhaps recalling what happened when Ted Dinard crossed the threshold of his family’s house unbidden.

Sammy Jo loses a baby in each ep. In The Ball, she finds out she was never pregnant in the first place but cannot bring herself to tell proud papa-to-be Clay while in Battle Lines, despite being offscreen, she causes Krystle to shed happy tears by signing the papers that will enable her and Blake to adopt Danny.

Just as The Avenger ended with Blake and Dominique arguing about business, only to be interrupted by a life and death phone call about their father, Battle Lines ends with Blake and Alexis arguing about business (“I’ve got weapons to use against you I haven’t even unwrapped yet!”), only to be interrupted by a call about their son: “Steven — alive??

And the winner is ... Battle Lines

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