First reviews for the Dynasty reboot range from “pallid” to “not bad” to “I absolutely loved this.”
Given that the CW (like the WB before it) has often done a pretty good job with modern-day soaps, the lackluster nature of the network’s revival of “Dynasty” is a bit puzzling. It’s not that the entire thing fails to work: Here and there, certain performances contain echoes of the flashy original. But other aspects of this “Dynasty” reboot are lacking, and it’s not quite clear that the drama will be able to overcome some of the problems that hobble its pilot. All in all, this “Dynasty” generally lacks both verve and style. Another recent CW soap, “Riverdale,” lost its way for a bit early in its first season, but rallied to finish in a generally strong fashion. But this pallid “Dynasty” barely gets out of the gate before it begins to lose steam.
The original show was famous for its physical battles between Alexis, played by Joan Collins, and Krystle, played by Linda Evans. The new show wastes little time in setting up a similar relationship of mutual contempt between Cristal and Fallon. Yes, there is a physical brawl between them. Keep an eye out for one especially funny and over-the-top moment involving Fallon and a wedding cake. The developers of the new show, Josh Schwartz, Stephanie Savage and Sallie Patrick, update some of the trappings of life among the super-rich Carrington clan, with references to the 45th president, for whom Blake voted, as well as the use of smartphones, a subplot involving fracking and something of an attempt to add ethnic diversity to the cast.
Lauren Piester: Here for it! I won’t say the pilot’s perfect—it’s a little underwhelming in terms of the outrageousness associated with the original—but I’m very much invested anyway. Great cast, great clothes, great scenes with people dramatically showing up, and lots of sex. What more do I need?
Billy Nilles: I loved absolutely everything about this! I loved Elizabeth Gillies’ icy turn as Fallon Carrington. I loved Nathalie Kelley as the ballsy and mysterious new Cristal and her over-the-top stomp down the aisle. And trust me, you’ll love it too. Josh Schwartz, Stephanie Savage and Sallie Patrick have delivered on all fronts.
The single biggest shocker about this “Dynasty” is that it’s not bad. “Not bad,” naturally, demands an explanation: This isn’t Harold Pinter, after all, but barely Aaron Spelling for that matter, either. His “Dynasty” — or Esther and Richard Shapiro’s “Dynasty” (1981-89) — was essentially a greed-is-good/excess-even-better ’80s romp stripped of subtlety, irony, substance or conscience. When Joan Collins (as Alexis) arrived the second season, “Dynasty” turned into a running catfight, then a series of cliffhangers, culminating in the cliffhanger of cliffhangers (the Moldavian wedding massacre in 1985 — how could we forget?).
In this new “Dynasty,” everyone has a secret, and everyone seems to have a secret plan aimed at undermining someone else. It is a complicated web being woven here, but that doesn’t make the story of these Carringtons interesting, at least for me. In fact, one of the thoughts that occurred to me at various times while watching the premiere last week was how stupid the whole thing was, as if anyone could care about these people. The show is designed and being promoted as a guilty pleasure — something its audience is supposed to know is substance-free and yet they are supposed to enjoy it anyway, perhaps as an escape from their dreary workaday lives. I have always been wary of the phrase “guilty pleasure” since, to me, the term is synonymous with another phrase: “This thing is a waste of your time.” A “guilty” pleasure? I would rather have pleasure without guilt, thank you very much.
Produced for The CW, Dynasty will screen in Australia on Netflix from Thursday.