Hit or Sh**: The CW’s DYNASTY
In this Crossfader series, our intricate and complex rating system will tell you definitively whether new television pilots are worth your valuable time. We call it: HIT OR SH**.
The CW has always been known for programming with a melodramatic flair only found in the soap operas of days gone by. Even ARROW and RIVERDALE, adapted from popular comic book characters, have the characteristics of your typical daytime series: a “sexual drama” that deals with heavy emotions and deep conflicts within a close-knit group, more often than not a family. It comes as no surprise, then, that the long-running 1980s soap opera DYNASTY was adapted by the network for the next generation of TV watchers. Instead, the most interesting aspect of DYNASTY is that it plays more like a parody of a soap opera than an actual soap opera. There are many ridiculous moments during the pilot of the rebooted DYNASTY that undercut the emotional drama the series is clearly trying to attain.
Much like its predecessor, DYNASTY focuses on a rich family and the corporation they run: Carrington Energy. There is the patriarch and CEO Blake Carrington (Grant Show), recently engaged to a much younger employee Cristal Flores (Nathalie Kelley). Then there are Blake’s two children, Fallon (Elizabeth Gillies) and Steven (James Mackay). Fallon schemes to be the next CEO of Carrington Energy at whatever cost, while Steven, both liberal and gay, spends his time protesting against his father’s use of nonrenewable energy. Each character has their own motive and their own agenda, making the first episode compelling enough to sit through. However, if DYNASTY wants to succeed, it can’t just fall in the footsteps of its precursor. It has to embrace its absurdity and become a wilder counterpart to the original series.
How to adapt a trashy soap opera for millennials? Make it trashier
Take a scene from the first 10 minutes of the pilot. Fallon and Steven, recently returned to their father’s manor, accidentally walk in on their father Blake and Cristal making out. The scene—and Fallon and Steven’s placid, amused reaction—is only the first of many laugh-out-loud moments in the pilot. Every member of the Carrington family acts in a passive-aggressive manner purely to hurt another person for a previous wrong, making the show hysterical at times, perhaps more so than the creators intended. Not only that, these actions also reveal who these characters are better than the clunky exposition that is shoveled at you within the first five minutes through Fallon’s unnecessary voice-over narration.
It is so rare to find a show that, rather than dial down on its ridiculousness, needs to turn it up a notch. DYNASTY, however, has the opportunity to be one of the most fun shows on television. With such vibrant characters and complex relationships between each other, it seems that there is no other way the rebooted series can turn other than becoming wilder with each episode. There is a chance, of course, that the pilot was a fluke and that DYNASTY will instead double down and attempt to join the pantheon of more serious dramas. But, when competing with so many prestige dramas with bigger budgets and more well-known casts, DYNASTY is better off becoming something new, something different, something unexpected. If the series continues on its streak of absurdity, then it just might be worth the watch.
Verdict: Sh** Probation