The glitz, glamour and delicious viciousness of the fabled 1980s primetime soap is updated for a new generation
Dynasty reborn: what's in store for the rebooted 2017 version
While your first reaction to watching the new Dynasty may well be — “If I had their money, I’d burn mine” — it becomes way more fun if you suspend your disbelief even deeper into the emotional baggage of the super-rich Carrington family.
Welcome back to their world of private jets, granite mansions, gold-diggers, gull-wing sports cars, romantic conspiracy, bulging money-clips, liars, cheaters, hair-pulling girly brawls and high-society arrogance — all driven by megalomania and blind ambition in this posh reboot from The CW Network which comes to Netflix on October 12.
First, however, a little history lesson is in order as to why we should care.
Although hardly forgotten, it’s been 28 years since the original Dynasty went off the air after nine seasons (1981-1989). Back in the day, it was must-see TV, won a Golden Globe in 1984 and reached the pinnacle as America’s top-rated show in 1985 with 21.2 million homes — or 60 million viewers — tuning in per episode.
Numbers like this are simply unimaginable in this day and age in our splintered broadcast/cable/streaming universe. Even The Walking Dead, arguably the most-watched series in the U.S., could only scrape together 11.3 million souls last season.
With its platinum-plated look at living large in Denver, Dynasty literally turned into a licence to print money for the late, legendary Aaron Spelling, the most prolific writer and producer in US television history, and the man behind Charlie’s Angels, The Love Boat, Beverly Hills 90210, 7th Heaven and Charmed.
Those of us, now of a certain age, found ourselves enthralled with the silver-maned lion John Forsythe as the oil magnate and family patriarch Blake Carrington, with Linda Evans as his gorgeous and earnest new wife Krystle — and later with Joan Collins as his former wife Alexis, one of the most cunning, manipulative and wildly popular vixens ever to tense up a TV screen. In fact, the series’ first-season ratings proved lacklustre; it was only when the sultry Collins arrived to spice up the sophomore season that Dynasty’s ratings blasted off for the Top 10 stratosphere.
Now let’s fast-forward to 2017, which apparently has created the perfect conditions for Dynasty’s return, say showrunners Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage, who previously scored big with Gossip Girl.
“We are living in an age of dynasties,” says Schwartz. “You can’t look at the news” without seeing “Trump or the Clintons or the Kardashians or the Murdochs. Our news is filled with stories of dynasties.... That was something that really got us excited to do the show.”
For the new generation, Dynasty has been relocated to Atlanta for a modernized, more diverse saga about two of America’s wealthiest families, the Carringtons and the Colbys, as they feud for control over their fortune and their children.
Fallon Carrington (Elizabeth Gillies, 24, formerly of Victorious) is charismatic, cunning, and ripe — or so she thinks — to become the new COO of her father’s global energy empire.
When her father Blake Carrington (Grant Show, 55, formerly of Melrose Place) summons Fallon and her brother, Steven (Aussie actor James Mackay, 33) home to the family compound, Fallon is horrified to learn that the reunion isn’t to announce her promotion, but rather to meet their stepmother-to-be, Cristal (Nathalie Kelley, 32, known for The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift).
Cristal is stunning, and almost as young as Fallon, as she’s quick to point out, but Cristal is hardly some delicate gold-digger who can be scared off the prize by a jealous stepdaughter-to-be.
‘When I got the script I said, ‘This is my job and I’m not letting anyone else have it,’” says Show, who knows the primetime soap genre intimately after starring for Spelling when he executive-produced Melrose Place (1992-1999). “I am uniquely positioned to play Blake Carrington and I’m having a blast.”
In the spirit of inclusion and diversity, and reflecting its move to Atlanta, the Colbys are now a black family, with rival Jeff Colby played by Sam Adegoke, seen earlier this year in the TV biopic, Michael Jackson: Searching for Neverland.
As well, “Krystle” from the original series is now “Cristal” — a Latina.
“It was a bold and daring choice to make Cristal from Venezuela considering what’s happening (there) right now,” says Kelley, of Peruvian-Australian heritage.
Original fans will also note that, perhaps in the most shocking update, the duplicitous blonde stunner Sammy Jo Carrington, played by Heather Locklear in the original, is now a male Latino, Sam Flores, played by Rafael de la Fuente, 30, a bonafide Venezuelan and Telemundo telenovela star from Caracas.
In yet another significant tweak to the reboot, Blake now clashes with his son Steven over his environmental views instead of his dating preferences.