Of all the possible shows to be revived and rebooted for the contemporary era, that old, over-the-top soap Dynasty seemed the least likely candidate. Oil tycoons, garish hair and ludicrous dresses, and Joan Collins, is all so 1980s and ridiculous.
What could possibly motivate anyone to revive it and on what grounds? Could it be a Trump-era camp comedy about billionaires and their families, especially their ambitious daughters? The answer is, yes, sort-of, maybe-so. But not successfully.
The new Dynasty (on the CW in the United States and in Canada on Netflix) is nutty and nastily cheap. Yes, in the opening credits and voiceover there is a reference to both the Trump family and the Murdoch family, but that's about as close as it gets to direct commentary. What it's really about is some kind of misguided feminism, with camp. As such, it is bizarrely entertaining and wacko for about 15 minutes.
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If you remember the original – and no pressure if you don't – big-daddy oil tycoon Blake Carrington married his former secretary Krystle and attempted to engineer his daughter Fallon's marriage to a Colby guy in order to have a business merger. That was the start of it. Not that I recall it, really, but I looked it up on your behalf.
This new version, created by Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage, who also created The OC and Gossip Girl, is emphatically about Fallon (Elizabeth Gillies). As played by Gillies, she's a lot of fun because Gillies seems to have prepped for the role by watching a lot of Kardashian shows and learning how to pout, look askance, glare and, in general, speak dialogue as though it were written in all-capitals. Why does she need to talk in all-caps? Glad you asked.
See, Fallon believes daddy Carrington (Grant Show) is about to hand over the business empire to her. She's up for it: "The future is female," she declares at the start, meaning she gets to run the business and enjoy a no-strings liaison with the family chauffeur while doing so. (Me, I think Fallon was also doing the chauffeur in the old show, but I'm not sure. Anyway, this is different because Fallon orders him to, you know, do what specifically gives her pleasure.) Also, there's stuff about men mistaking her for a witless airline attendant when, in fact, she has a private plane and a ruthless business mind.
To her eternal pique, and here come the all-caps, daddy doesn't give her the family shop. In fact, he's about to marry young Cristal Flores (Nathalie Kelley), who is Hispanic and has a dark past or something. Fallon and brother Steven (James Mackay), who is gay and an environmentalist do-gooder, discover they are going to have a new super-young step-mom by accident. They walk into daddy's study and find him entangled with an almost naked Cristal. The exchange goes like this – Daddy: "What are you doing here?" and the son replies, "WHAT are YOU doing here?" See what I mean about all-caps? Anyway, Fallon pouts like a Kardashian and gives Cristal the evil-eye. Meanwhile, daddy gets busy arranging the murder of people in Cristal's life so that he has her all to himself. In truth, the storyline about daddy falling for Cristal, which unfolds in about two minutes, is a bit wobbly. It seems he barely knows her and she's nervous meeting him. There is no come-hither stuff from either party, which makes you think a page of the script got lost somewhere. Somebody also seems to have forgotten to make the Cristal character the least-bit hard-bitten or steely. As things stand, you figure Fallon could chew her up and toss her away in the time it takes Fallon to toss her hair. And she is super good at tossing her hair.
Meanwhile, back at the big house where everybody sits around pouting, somebody has the goods on Cristal. That somebody is daddy's personal butler, Anders (Alan Dale). No, seriously, the butler has the goods on everyone. Also, he's viciously sarcastic and everybody is wary of him. About 15 minutes into this Dynasty, it dawns on you that the show is actually about the butler. Yep, the butler stole it.
The upshot is this – Dynasty rebooted is camp, but very confusing. Yes, it is definitely about an underestimated young woman. Yes, it also about the loathing between that young woman, Fallon, and her new stepmom. But, the clothes are neither fabulous nor chic. They're just ordinary. And the characters, with the exception of Fallon and the butler, are as ordinary as the clothes. Rebooted, Dynasty remains ridiculous, but far less fabulous.