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TV Series Review

If recent television history has taught us anything, it's that almost any show—no matter how tawdry and insipid—can be ripe for a reboot. Oh, admittedly, some need a bit more refurbishing than others to make them shiny and new again. Or, in the case of CW's new version of the 1980s drama Dynasty, a little more lather in the soap.

Relocating From Denver to Hotlanta

Let me introduce you to the Carrington family, an Atlanta-based clan that makes the Kardashians look quiet and understated.

Paterfamilias Blake Carrington built his fortune on fossil fuels. Some say he's a bit of a fossil himself. Solar power? Pish. Wind turbines? Ha! No, what the world needs now, Blake believes, is crude, sweet crude. Oil, that is, and fracked if at all possible. Not that he's against renewable energy—as long as it energizes his bottom line.

The only thing Blake likes more than money is, apparently, nepotism. His new wife, Cristal, was the company's new chief operating officer until she passed away at the end of Season One. Blake's ruthlessly ambitious daughter, Fallon, was the company's VP of acquisitions before she, briefly, left in a huff—jealous, it would seem, of her new stepmom's power. But don't worry, she's back again to regain control. And son Steven (who's soon to be a father) … well, he and his pops don't see eye to eye on much. But that doesn't keep Blake and Stevie from partnering from time to time when it's mutually beneficial.

And in a world in which most companies vet top execs for 18 months or so, Carrington Corp. is liable to see churn at the top every commercial break or two. You never know when a second cousin or blackmailing ne'er-do-well is going to need a seven-figure job, after all. Fallon could return to the company, then leave it, then return to it again by the time you finish reading this sentence.

Joan Collins, Where Are You?

But for all of the conspicuous cash the Carringtons might throw around, Dynasty is far more concerned with what happens in the bedroom than the boardroom. Most business deals here aren't cemented with a handshake, but a little wrestling between a pair of 1,000 thread count sheets.

ABC's original Dynasty was, of course, certainly not prone to blush at the hint of sexual calisthenics, and its lovers changed hands more often than mid-grade major league relief pitchers. But, boy howdy, what a difference a few decades makes in how all that sex shows up on the small screen.

When Fallon and Steven walk in on Blake performing an, um, transaction during the opening episode, no one so much as blinks. Nor does the camera seem particularly embarrassed when Fallon's fiancé-slash-chauffer performs oral sex on her in the back seat of the limo. Or when Steven, who's gay, entwines with his new male paramour and, eventually, marries him. This being broadcast television, we don't actually see anything critical. But still, so much sex, people. So much. And scandal, too. Skeletons fill every closet in the Carrington mansion, and they're all pounding on the doors to get out.

There's a certain irony that television soap operas (so named because many were originally sponsored by detergent companies) have always been so dirty. But with this Dynasty reboot, CW has gone a step beyond creating a generically trashy prime time soaper: It's almost aggressively dumb—so much so that it makes the original Dynasty feel like a genteel Jane Austin novel.

It is, at least in its early episodes, completely and actively devoid of anything good: good behavior, good characters, good writing, good acting. It's almost as if the writers, when they accidentally came up with a bit of believable dialogue or positive character development, were summarily sent to CW's secret underground laboratories, never to be seen again, and immediately replaced with cast members from Jersey Shore.

Prime time soap operas are sometimes referred to as "guilty pleasures," and that's what CW has tried to create here. But this soap—what with its obsession with sex and its ruthless eschewing of merit—has successfully washed away any hint of pleasure here, leaving just the guilt behind.

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Episode Reviews

Oct. 19, 2018: "Ship of Vipers"
Dynasty: Oct. 11, 2017 "I Hardly Recognized You"



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Elizabeth Gillies as Fallon Carrington; Nathalie Kelley as Cristal Flores; James Mackay as Steven Carrington; Sam Adegoke as Jeff Colby; Alan Dale as Joseph Anders; Robert Christopher Riley as Michael Culhane; Rafael de la Fuente as Sammy Joe Flores; Grant Show as Blake Carrington; Wakeema Hollis as Monique Colby






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