Dynasty (TV series)

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Dynasty was an American primetime television soap opera that aired on ABC from January 1981 to May 1989. The series revolved around the Carringtons, a wealthy oil family living in Denver, Colorado.

Dynasty epitomized the era of the primetime soap, in which all of the characters either had money and power and wanted more, or didn't have either but wanted it badly.

Contents

Beginnings

The working title for Dynasty was Oil -- the starring role originally went to George Peppard. In early drafts of the pilot script the two main families featured in the series, the Carrington and Colby families, were written as Parkhurst and Corby respectively.

Peppard, who had difficulties dealing with the somewhat unsympathetic role of Blake, was replaced with John Forsythe.

As the series opened, tycoon Blake Carrington (John Forsythe) was about to marry Krystle Jennings (Linda Evans), a younger woman whom he met when she took a job as a secretary at his company, the monolithic Denver-Carrington.

Krystle was young, beautiful and vulnerable, described by the show's creator Esther Shapiro as "an American Aphrodite". She found a hostile reception in the Carrington household - the staff patronised her, Blake's daughter Fallon (Pamela Sue Martin) resented her, and her husband was too preoccupied with his work. Krystle's only ally in the Carrington house was her stepson, the sexually ambivalent Steven (Al Corley).

At the conclusion of the show's first season, as Blake Carrington stood trial for the murder of his gay son's lover, Ted Dinard, the script called for the return of Blake's former wife, the sultry, elegant Alexis Carrington. (In early drafts of the script the character was named Madelaine Carrington.) With the role uncast, a model was used in the season finale.

"Enter Alexis"

In the first episode of the second season, titled "Enter Alexis," the mysterious stranger removed her Dior sunglasses to reveal English actress Joan Collins who chewed her way through the scripts, and confirmed Alexis Carrington, later Alexis Colby, as one of the greatest TV characters of all time. She blazed a trail across the show and the program quickly shot up in the ratings.

By the end of the 1981-1982 season Dynasty entered the Top 20 in the Nielsen ratings, and eventually hit #1 in the ratings in 1985. The show epitomized an era of glamour and decadence and was the talk of the nation. Even former President Gerald Ford guest-starred.

With Alexis settled as Krystle's implacable nemesis, mother and stepdaughter Fallon settled their differences - a bond which riled the displaced and resentful Alexis even further.

Krystle and Alexis

In the seasons which followed, Alexis caused Krystle's miscarriage, tried to ruin her marriage by finding Krystle's former husband (Samuel) Mark Jennings and proving that their divorce was never finalised (and that, consequently, Krystle's marriage to Blake was invalid), as well as provoking a handful of trademark catfights, beginning with one in the Carrington estate's art studio, another in the lily pond, a third in a burning cabn, a fourth in a mud pool in a park and a final spat (in Dynasty: The Reunion) in a fashion studio. The fights were toned down after Joan Collins wrenched her back during one altercation.

Cliffhangers and the "Moldavian Massacre"

The most memorable aspects of the series, outside the high camp scripts from writer/creators Richard and Esther Shapiro and writers Robert Mason Pollock and Eileen Pollock, were a stream of infamous cliffhanger storylines including an Alexis/Krystle showdown which ended in an inferno in Steven's cabin, a fire in the hotel La Mirage (which killed Claudia, while Blake and Alexis battled across town), and the show's most famous - the so-called "wedding massacre" when Blake's daughter Amanda (Catherine Oxenberg) married Prince Michael of Moldavia (Michael Praed) on the eve of a military revolution in his country.

Almost all of the show's characters went to the fictitious kingdom to attend the wedding, and in the final seconds of the season finale in May 1985, the revolutionaries gunned down everyone in the church. The camera panned out, showing all of the guests wounded and strewn about one another, giving the impression that anyone and everyone could have died. In the summer that followed, many magazines published stories wondering who would survive the massacre, and some tabloids published supposed "dirt" on who died. In the end, however, fans learned in the season premiere that fall that only two minor characters perished - a move which disenfranchised fans who felt the storyline had built to nothing.

The end of the Dynasty

The lackluster reaction to the Moldavian storyline, combined with a poorly received dual role for Evans and excessive time spent introducing characters to be spun off onto The Colbys, caused a ratings slump. Two other factors perhaps also account for the ratings decline: the revival of sitcoms, especially on NBC, whose Cosby Show took the number one position from Dynasty in the 1985-86 season, and Cheers (consistently in the top ten from 1985 until 1993), which aired opposite Dynasty in the 1988-89 season, and more realistic, low-key dramas such as thirtysomething which gained favor in the late eighties.

When The Colbys was cancelled, Stephanie Beacham was brought in to reprise her role as firecracker Sable Colby. Her bravura performance made many deem the final season as one of the best in some time, but ABC had had enough and pulled the plug in 1989. Many believe that the show was a creation perfect for the Ronald Reagan era and could never have outlived his Presidency.

Rock Hudson

Aside from the glamour and campy drama, the show is also remembered for the controversy surrounding a storyline involving former matinee idol Rock Hudson in 1984. Hudson's scenes required him to kiss Linda Evans and, as news that he had contracted AIDS broke, there was speculation Evans would be at risk.

Dynasty commercial tie-ins

A perfume, Forever Krystle, was marketed in 1985. In addition, the Crystal Light beverage had Linda Evans as a spokesperson, due to her character's name on Dynasty.

Characters

The major characters in the show included:

  • Blake Carrington (John Forsythe): The son of Tom and Fallon Carrington (in one episode later erroneously referred to as Ellen) who became the self-made CEO of Denver-Carrington. The husband of Alexis Morrell Carrington (with whom he fathered Adam, Fallon, Steven and Amanda), and Krystle Jennings Carrington (with whom he fathered Krystina).
  • Krystle Jennings Carrington (Linda Evans): The wife of Blake Carrington, former wife of tennis pro Samuel Mark Jennings (known as Mark) and the one-time lover of Matthew Blaisdel (Bo Hopkins), a married geologist who worked for Denver-Carrington. Krystle was the mother, with Blake, of Krystina (Jessica Player), and the aunt of Sammy Jo Dean (see below), the only child of her late sister Iris and her husband Frank.
  • Alexis Carrington Colby (Joan Collins): Former socialite turned businesswoman, married to - in order - Blake Carrington, Cecil Colby, Dex Dexter and Sean Rowan. She famously held a torch for Blake, though she later fell deeply in love with Dex Dexter. Her marriage to Colby was ordered on his deathbed, and intended to enable her to ruin Blake after Colby was gone, while her wedding to Rowan was on a whim. Mother, with Blake, to Adam, Fallon, Steven and Amanda Carrington. Alexis was romantically attached to a number of men, including Carrington architect and estate manager Roger Grimes, tennis pro Mark Jennings, oilman Rashid Ahmed, King Galen of Moldavia, and shipping tycoon Zach Powers.
  • Fallon Carrington Colby (Pamela Sue Martin, then Emma Samms): The daughter of Blake and Alexis Carrington, the wife of Jeff Colby and the mother, with Jeff, of Blake Carrington Colby (known as LB) and Lauren Constance Colby. As a young woman, she was famously indiscreet and enjoyed affairs with chauffer Michael Culhane, playboy Peter de Vilbis, tennis pro Mark Jennings, doctor Nick Toscanni, and Colby heir, Miles Colby, whom she married briefly. The role was recast during the series run, though no on-air explanation was given for Fallon's change of appearance. See also The Colbys.
  • Steven Carrington (Al Corley, then Jack Coleman): The sexually confused son of Blake and Alexis Carrington who, despite his conviction that he was homosexual, married - at times, happily - Sammy Jo Dean and Claudia Blaisdel. With Sammy Jo, he fathered Steven Daniel Carrington (known as Danny). At different times, the lover of Ted Dinard, Luke Fuller and Bart Fallmont. He was accused of having an affair with his friend Chris Deegan, but their relationship was never clarified. (And Steven denied it.) The role was recast during the series run, and the change of appearance was explained by plastic surgery after an oil rig explosion. At the conclusion of Dynasty: The Reunion Steven (reprised by Al Corley, with no scripted explanation for Steven's pre-surgery face returning) was in a relationship with Bart Fallmont.
  • Adam Carrington (Gordon Thomson): Kidnapped at birth and raised as Michael Torrance, in Billings, Montana, Adam Carrington did not return to the Carrington home until he was an adult. Married to Claudia Blaisdel and Dana Waring, he was a ruthless schemer - plotting to enhance his position in the dynasty. His only lasting relationship was with Kirby Anders (Kathleen Beller).
  • Amanda Carrington (Catherine Oxenberg, then briefly Karen Cellini): Raised in London as Amanda Bedford, by Alexis' cousin Rosalind Morell, and hidden from her father Blake out of spite by Alexis who discovered she was pregnant after she separated from her husband. Married to Prince Michael of Moldavia, and onetime lover of Dex Dexter (on whom she had a crush), Clay Fallmont and chauffeur Michael Culhane. The role was re-cast during the series run, but no on air explanation was given. The recast was wildly unpopular, fired after a few months, and Amanda was never heard from again.
  • Claudia Blaisdel (Pamela Bellwood): The emotionally fragile wife of Matthew Blaisdel, and at one time a close friend of Krystle. After her affair with Steven Carrington was revealed during the Ted Dinard murder trial, her husband Matthew took their daughter Lindsay and left Denver, pushing Claudia into a succession of breakdowns, interrupted only by marriages to Steven, and later Adam, Carrington. Claudia died in a fire at La Mirage (which she started) at the conclusion of the show's sixth season.
  • Jeff Colby (John James): The nephew and protege of Cecil Colby. Born (supposedly) to Philip and Francesca Colby, he was raised by Cecil on the Colby estate in Denver, Nine Oaks (which neighbored the Carrington estate) because his father died before coming into his inheritance. It was later revealed that Cecil had pressured the penniless Francesca to surrender Jeff for his own good. Married (and later re-married) to Fallon Carrington and briefly to Kirby Anders. The father of Blake Carrington Colby (known as LB) and Lauren Constance Colby. At different times, the lover of Nicole Simpson, Lady Ashley Mitchell and Sammy Jo Reece. See also The Colbys
  • Sammy Jo Dean, aka Samantha Josephine Reece (Heather Locklear): Greedy, trouble-making niece of Krystle Carrington, wife of Steven Carrington and Clay Fallmont, and mother of Danny Carrington. Onetime lover of Josh Harris and Jeff Colby. The show's secondary villainess for much of the show's run, though she was an amateur compared to the far more polished Alexis. Locklear split her time between Dynasty and another Spelling-produced series, T.J. Hooker.
  • Dominique Deveraux (Diahann Carroll), born Millie Cox: Successful and wealthy chanteuse, illegitimate daughter of Tom Carrington and Laura Matthews, making her a half-sister to Blake and Ben Carrington. Carroll joined the cast in the fourth season as a foil for Joan Collins, though when the character was originally written, the producers had not decided how to use her. A number of scenes were filmed to introduce her (to cirvument any chance the storyline would leak to the press) including alternative lines that revealed Dominique to be the mother of Kirby Anders, and also the former wife of Cecil Colby.
  • Farnsworth "Dex" Dexter (Michael Nader): Alexis' third husband, and arguably the second great love of her life, beside Blake. Dex carried on a brief affair with her daughter Amanda. Following the dissolution of his marriage to Alexis, he was involved with Leslie Carrington and Sable Colby. At the conclusion of the original series, Sable Colby was pregnant with his child. (The eventual fate of Dex, and his relationship with Sable, was not included in Dynasty: The Reunion.)
  • Kirby Anders Colby (Kathleen Beller): The daughter of Joseph Anders, the Carrington major-domo. She was schooled in Europe at Blake Carrington's expense, but returned to Denver in 1982, eventually securing work as LB's nanny. She became the second wife of Jeff Colby, and then began a relationship with Adam Carrington, after he raped her. The storyline, controversial at the time, echoed of a similar storyline from the daytime soap General Hospital in which Laura Webber fell in love with her rapist Luke Spencer. Kirby and Adam's relationship was re-kindled in Dynasty: The Reunion.
  • Clay Fallmont (Ted McGinley): The illegitimate son of Ben Carrington and Emily Fallmont, who engaged in affairs with Amanda Carrington, Sammy Jo Reece and Leslie Carrington. The last relationship ended, and he left Denver, when it was confirmed that Leslie may have been his sister by blood. (Although it was never clarified, Ben Carrington may have been his biological father.)
  • Leslie Saunders (Terri Garber): Daughter of Ben Carrington and Melissa Saunders. At one time the lover of Clay Fallmont, Michael Culhane, Dex Dexter and Sean Rowan.
  • Prince Michael of Moldavia (Michael Praed): The heir to the (fictional) European kingdom of Moldavia, and widely regarded as a playboy prince. Prior to his engagement to Amanda Carrington, he was linked to Elena, the Duchess of Brana (Kerry Armstrong). His wedding to Amanda Carrington, at the conclusion of the show's fourth season, was interrupted by machine-gun-wielding rebels in what was widely regarded as the series most ostentatious cliffhanger. It is also the point at which TV critics consider the series jumped the shark.
  • Ben Carrington (Christopher Cazenove): The vengeful brother of Blake, who was cut off by Blake after the death of their mother because Ben was supposed to be caring for her at the time of her death (he was in fact, having an affair with Emily Fallmont). Blake blamed Ben for her death. Ben returned to Denver to destroy Blake, with Alexis' help, but reconciled with his brother and left Denver.
  • Cassandra Morrell (Kate O'Mara): who styled herself as "Caress", was the manipulative sister of Alexis, rescued from a South American prison by Dex Dexter, and reunited with her sister Alexis. She wrote a memoir, Sister Dearest, about Alexis Carrington Colby, but Alexis discovered the plan, bought the publishing house and scuttled the project.

Dynasty spin-offs and television events

The Colbys, an unsuccessful spin-off came in 1985; a miniseries, Dynasty: The Reunion, aired in 1991. On January 2, 2005, ABC aired a TV-movie, Dynasty: The Making of a Guilty Pleasure, purporting to tell of the creation and backstage details of Dynasty. The movie received mixed reviews both for content and for historical accuracy, and was criticized by all three of its leads, John Forsythe, Linda Evans, and Joan Collins, in different press releases. Strangely, the movie was filmed in Australia (rather than Los Angeles) and a good majority of the cast members were foreign.

In April 2005, the first season of Dynasty was released on Region 1 DVD by 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.de:Der Denver-Clan fr:Dynastie (feuilleton tÚlÚvisÚ) nl:Dynasty pl:Dynastia (serial)

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