Dynasty (The CW) pilot preview: Another Lazy Reboot No One Asked For

Written and produced by Josh Schwartz (The OC, Gossip Girl, Chuck, Hart of Dixie), Stephanie Savage (Fastlane, Gossip Girl, The OC, The Carrie Diaries) & Sallie Patrick (Revenge, Limitless, Life Unexpected). Based on the show created by Richard & Esther Shapiro. Directed by Brad Silberling (Jane The Virgin, No Tomorrow). For CBS Television Studios & Fake Empire. 59 pages. Studio Draft. 12/18/16.

Description: Two of America’s wealthiest families, the Carringtons and the Colbys, feud for control over their fortune and their children, starting with Fallon Carrington, daughter of billionaire Blake Carrington, and her soon-to-be stepmother, Cristal, a Hispanic woman marrying into this WASP family, exposing the dark underbelly that is a corrupt world built on backroom deals, betrayal, and, in some cases, murder…

With Nathalie Kelley (The Vampire Diaries, UnReal, Body of Proof), Elizabeth Gillies (Victorious, Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll), Grant Show (Melrose Place, Devious Maids), Sam Adegoke (Switched at Birth, Murder in the first), Alan Dale (Ugly Betty, Lost, Once Upon a Time), Rafael de la Fuente (Empire, When We Rise), Robert Christopher Riley (Hit the Floor)…

 

You’ll like if you already like: Revenge, Gossip Girl, Empire

Likely timeslot: Monday at 9 or Friday at 8 or 9

 

When Dynasty started in 1981 I wasn’t born yet, not even conceived. Maybe my parents haven’t even met yet. Growing up, I watched a lot of television and a lot of soap operas in particular, but never this one despite the multiple reruns. I came across some of Dallas –and was a fan of the recent follow-up- have fond memories of Knots Landing and loved Melrose Place more than anything. Why am I telling you this about my life? To make a point. I feel like we, millenials, couldn’t care less about Dynasty, even though it was a huge hit in the 80s and is considered as cult. It’s too old. Really. For us, it’s just shiny earrings, sparkly outfits, incredible haircuts and crazy catfight scenes. But not something that we’re really curious about and certainly not a show we would watch in a heartbeat. Unless I missed something, The CW isn’t targeting people over 40. So I don’t understand why this pilot has been picked-up…

Okay, I’m not stupid. Deep down I know. It’s about milking CBS Television Studios’ library at all costs (same reason why Hawaii Five-0MacGyver came back to life and why Charmed is poised to be next on the list). But seriously? No one asked for this and no one will watch it. Even if you promote it like crazy. If Dallas didn’t last long on TNT, then Dynasty is doomed on The CW. It doesn’t fit. It’s as simple as that. Plus, I feel like it’s coming at the worst time possible. Most networks decided it was time to make more shows that reflect the “real” America, the middle-America that voted for Trump. The people who watch This Is UsDynasty is the opposite of that. It’s about the 1% of American who are rich. There was a time -especially in the 80s, “The Reagan Era”- when it was all people cared about. They were fascinated by wealth. Today? Not so much anymore. Dynasties still appear everywhere, from reality TV -hello dear Kardashians!- to the polling booths. But they don’t fascinate anymore. Not in the same way at least. And straight soap operas like Dynasty, without anything that makes them special like Empire, are just dead.

It’s not that Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage didn’t try to modernize Dynasty. They just didn’t try hard enough. What they did was adding diversity to the exact same concept and script. Or should I say: adding colours. Sorry but it is what it is. So our heroine is no longer called Krystle but Cristal and she’s hispanic, something that is not even vaguely adressed in the pilot. She just is. Which is defensible. The Carringtons are still white but the Colbys are black now. Finally, to spice things up, Steven Carrington is still gay but he’s totally out of the closet and it doesn’t seem to be a problem -he’s still a trainwreck though, the black sheep of the family, but it’s not because of his sexuality apparently- while his principal love interest Sammy Jo is no longer a woman (played by Heather Locklear at the time) but a young gay man, who’s still looking for easy money and troubles. Don’t get me wrong: it’s all okay! It makes sense, those are good moves and not making them would have been heavily criticized. BUT it’s all there is. That’s where the modernization begins and ends.

On the plus side, it’s mostly efficient, like the original pilot was. Except the beginning of the opening sequence. It’s just two minutes long tops but two minutes that are really not engaging, with people talking about the solar system, green energies… Please cut this. Many viewers will change the channel immediately! You can’t just start with this. Most of the plots are tired, cliché. That’s what happens when you decide to copy/paste a 35 years-old pilot script. We know the tricks. Dynasty must have been one of the first soap operas to perform them, but time has past and other shows that came and went used them in the meantime. So it’s predictable. Even if the end has been changed. There’s a death. Won’t say who. But damn, adding a murder mystery is not what I would call a wild and original idea…

About the tone, it can be funny sometimes. Especially with Joseph Anders, the estate manager of the Carrington family, who’s a really amusing guy who clearly hates Cristal and isn’t afraid to show her everytime he has the chance. And the catfights between Fallon and Cristal are quite enjoyable on paper, as they should be. I wouldn’t say there’s anything really daring in this version of the show, unless if you still consider that showing two men kissing and making love is daring, as well as suggesting that Fallon’s pussy is being eaten out by her african-american chauffeur in one scene. How shocking!

This Dynasty reboot feels lazy. It’s like putting makeup on a tired old lady. She looks better with the makeup on but it doesn’t really hide the fact that she’s old and tired. It doesn’t have the freshness, the cleverness and the relevance of a Jane the Virgin, neither the nostalgic vibe of a Riverdale. it’s more like Revenge, without much of a concept and new ideas. A hot and charismatic cast would certainly help but it’d still be a mistake for The CW to bet on it next year, unless they really have nothing better to offer…

6 comments

  1. PBS says:

    Thanks for the great article.

    In the original Sammy Jo, appeared in season 2, now Sam is appearing in the pilot. Why does Sam appear in the wedding uninvited? Is he trying to blackmail Cristal?

    Also you mention he is a young man looking for troubles and easy money, could you elaborate on this?

    Best,

    P

  2. whisperintherain says:

    I can’t really say I’m surprised as my initial thoughts upon the annoucement that The CW had a Dynasty reboot in the works were :
    1) Wrong network
    2) Who on Earth needs a Dynasty reboot when Empire is around already? Empire is basically “Dynasty for the 2010s”.
    3) They need better upgrades than making Krystle Latina and changing her name to Cristal if they want this to have legs

    Adding to my skepticism were the names attached to developing the project : although I have never seen a single episode of Gossip Girl, it wasn’t exactly known for being well-written. And while I stuck with Revenge to the bitter end, it became almost unwatchable in the second season, which is when Sallie Patrick joined the writing staff.

    That being said, I will probably end up watching the pilot should it get picked up to series.

    A few comments and questions regarding the characters, which I hope you don’t mind answering when you find the time :

    – You mention catfights between Fallon and Cristal being where most of the fun lies in this new version. This is clearly a red flag as far as I’m concerned because the original Fallon Carrington, spoilt Daddy’s little girl that she was, never ever got physical with original recipe Krystle. Fallon’s best weapon was always her acid tongue, not her fists, being disrepectful and defiant but never resorting to violence, which she considered classless.

    – I see they have eliminated the prospect of casting a young actress who would have to fill Heather Locklear’s shoes as Sammy Jo by turning the character into a young man. This brings a couple of questions to mind :

    1) Is this version of Sammy Jo in any way related to Cristal? Part of what made the original character work IMHO was that she was Krystle’s niece and came from a working class background, which only added fuel to the fire of Fallon’s disdain for Krystle. In an update that aims to focus primarily on the rivalry between Fallon and Cristal, I think eliminating the family ties between Cristal and Sammy Jo would be a pretty significant mistake.

    2) By turning Sammy Jo into a male character and making Steven openly gay/not even remotely interested in women, there also seems to be a shortage of female characters. I know they left Alexis out on purpose but does the script include an updated version of Claudia Blaisdel? I’ll confess I’m mostly asking this because she was my favorite character in the original. Given her story in the first season, I’d understand them deciding to leave her out but I’d still be disappointed.

    3) You have mentioned Joseph Anders and the chauffeur (is he named Michael, like the original?) who are relatively minor characters, but Blake Carrington, who was front and center of the original show (John Forsythe is the only actor who appeared in every single episode) seems to be shrouded in mystery in this new version. Can you reveal anything about the character and do you have any casting suggestions? I’m assuming they’ll try their best to get a name actor but nobody’s come to mind when I’ve tried to think of who could potentially play him.

    Anyway, thanks for sharing your thoughts on the script, and to end on a humorous note, please remember I’m living proof you don’t have to be over 40 to enjoy your classic primetime soaps! XD

    • Lulla says:

      I was hoping to get feedback from you, I’m not disappointed! Thanks for taking the time.

      – There’s a catfight between Fallon & Cristal towards the end of the episode. Fallon grabs Cristal’s hair. Cristal claws at Fallon, but they are caught in the act so it stops there. Fallon still has an acid tongue, but so does Cristal.
      – Sammy Jo is still related to Cristal. He’s her nephew.
      – Claudia is there too, still cray cray. She’s involved in the cliffhanger.
      – Yes, the chauffeur is still named Michael. And I didn’t mention Blake Carrington, but he’s there, really there, still a big part of the show. Hiq age isn’t mentionned, probably still around 50. Im’ not sure who they could cast, but James Remar might be an interesting option. Since he’s with Cristal, I guess they’re going with an handsome 50 year-old but I’m not sure there are so many available…

  3. ... says:

    Yeah, this is how I felt when the pilot order came out. It’s not a title built for the current nostalgia wave (which is moreso 90s), it hasn’t had much of an afterlife on syndication/streaming, and The CW in 2017 isn’t a place for soaps, particularly soaps like this. Plus, the Dallas reboot didn’t work, the Melrose Place reboot didn’t work, and the 90210 reboot worked on a very different CW.

    I still think it’ll be ordered to series, but it’ll be very underwhelming for them nonetheless.

    • Taocritik says:

      Great fan of the original I know the revival will be a disappointment such as Melrose place. It’s time to go fresh. Empire is a honest update of Dynasty. We don’t need a lazy reboot.

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