Dynasty Season 1 Episode 1 – TV Review
Needs more shoulder pads.
TL;DR Dynasty takes its first tentative steps into the world with a middling, safe pilot; the antagonism between our female catfighters/leads is set up well enough; nebulous dark secrets abound; the focus on the Carringtons’ work is too much and not interesting; Nick Wechsler is already killed off and my God, what a waste.
So it’s time for the CW to take a step back from the stylish edginess of Riverdale and settle back in for a bland, frothy soap (not that there’s anything wrong with that). Our protagonist appears to be Fallon Carrington, the ambitious, sexually powerful heiress to an oil baron, Blake Carrington. She’s back in town to hold her hand out for daddy to give her a promotion. But uh oh, enter Cristal, daddy’s new toy, and Fallon’s soon-to-be stepmother. Fallon and Cristal enter into the expected “women’t can’t get along” cattiness, but Blake is a surprisingly (and refreshingly) nefarious instigator of their drama. At the end of the day, Cristal does marry Blake, and she snatches the promotion from under Fallon, too. Ouch. Fallon, in retaliation, begins a business venture with an old school friend of hers, and business rival of Blakes. Just as long as there will be more sniping at fancy parties, I’m in. Meanwhile, Fallon’s brother Steven, an anti-industrial do-gooder type, is duped by his father into schmoozing some business guy, as it turns out Blake was just using him for his homosexuality. But Steven does find a reason to stick around daddy’s house when Sam, his one night stand, moves in, and who is also Cristal’s nephew. Meanwhile, Cristal deals with ex-boyfriend Nick Wechsler (of Revenge), causing friction between her and Blake. But it’s cool, because he promptly dies in a work accident. Did I mention he worked for Blake, and he has a wife/secret girlfriend with memory loss? Salacious. And Dynasty tries to break away from Revenge by having some satellite black characters: Fallon’s school friend and new partner Jeff; and her chauffeur whom she causally fucks.
But it’s cool. He gets paid two hundred thousand dollars a year to drive an old white guy around and eat out his daughter. He’s no slave.
So yeah, the comparisons to Blood & Oil, ABC’s disappointing successor to Revenge, are annoyingly apparent.
From the low-tier cast, to the similar-looking setting, to the whole oil baron thing. And Blood & Oil was a huge waste of time, so it worries me that we’re heading in that same direction.
It gives me hope, though, that Dynasty isn’t benching its alpha bitch. Poor Amber Valletta.
Why I hate this episode:
But even with the advantage of not being terminally benched, Nathalie Kelley is no Amber Valletta. Sure, she’s gorgeous. But she’s still awash in that TVD Season 8 stink. We’re gonna need more than the six second catfight this episode to convince me she’s a true alpha, or a true bitch.
Cristal is also being saddled early on with sympathetic vibes, which doesn’t bode well for the camp factor that this show will need to stay alive. I don’t want my 80s soap revival to be nuanced and brooding. Go broad, baby.
That goes for Blake, too, who is yet to convince me he’s the tactical mastermind the show thinks he is.
The only one who gets top camp points this episode is Fallon, who subsequently looks out of place with her high-magnitude eye-rolls and guffaws. I’ll forgive Dynasty for now, as this is only a pilot. But I won’t be forgiving for long.
Killing Nick Wechsler so early was a huge mistake. At least get him some screentime shirtless. Yeesh.
I’m not sure if it was intentional, but the situation regarding Nick’s wife is confusing. Goldfish Blondie claims in the big closing shocker that Cristal engineered the death of Blondie’s husband, Nick. And from the scene we see of Nick and Blondie at home, that seems about right. But when Nick’s mortally wounded, he asks his coworker to contact Cristal by name, and the coworker calls out that they need to ring Nick’s wife. Is Blondie’s name also Cristal? Is Cristal stealing Blondie’s identity? Is Cristal actually Nick’s wife, and Blondie is mistaken? What is going on?
How old is Steven supposed to be?
Oh, and Fallon’s petulance, again, while admirably campy, is too obstructive. She decided to declare business war on her dad within milliseconds of finding out he passed her over for the promotion. Cunt, if you were really a soap opera diva, you would instead undermine and destroy Cristal. Get it together, boo.
But it’s not all bad:
Now, if everyone else could follow Fallon’s lead and be a complete cartoon character, then we’d have a show, people. Pilots are rough, so keep your fingers crossed.
And you know, despite the dourness, I was kind of impressed by Cristal’s down-to-earth qualities. She’s quietly embarrassed by Blake’s plans to throw a huge affair for the engagement, and her moments of butting heads with butler Alan Dale (oh, Alan. How the mighty have fallen) feel genuine.
But then Fallon throws down the gauntlet, and the Wicked Stepmother in her comes out. Which is fine with me.
But more still are Cristal’s secrets. In addition to whatever the fuck is happening between her and Nick and Blondie, there’s her nephew, Sam, who implies there’s something dark and terrible in her past, and basically blackmails her to be allowed to stay at the mansion. Alan Dale has also found out whatever this thing is, too, and holds it over Cristal, should she get a too comfortable with their head butts. Colour me intrigued.
Steven seems like the least evil character so far, with some pretty pedestrian tension with his dad over his anti-business attitude. But Blake’s seeming acceptance of Steven’s sexuality, insofar as he can pimp out his own son for a deal, anyway, is progressive. I’m not objectively opposed to some quality gayngst, but Steven’s too old for that.
Blake’s evil deeds are low key, but he does get one impressive moment when, after Cristal storms out on him because he confronted her with evidence of her secret meeting with Nick, he deftly deflects Cristal’s anger at him onto Fallon. Because Fallon is the one who got Blake the photos of Cristal’s meeting with Nick. Blake’s a real catty bitch.
Black Driver seems to be jealous of Jeff. If the women can’t get along with each other, then I suppose neither can the racial minorities.
I’m counting the days until someone gets pushed into a water fountain at a gala event. You know it’s inevitable.
Oh, and I wasn’t kidding when I said Fallon was a cartoon character.