Tuesday, July 13, 2010


I've decided with this blog each week, maybe, I will look at an old episode of a TV Series and discuss it. Mainly the writing, acting, background, etc. I was inspired by one my favorite websites AVclub.com to do this (great site by the way, check it out here.)

Dynasty(to watch episode click link). A term used to describe a political or wealthy continuation of power. However, in the 1980s the television series by that name was one of the most popular shows on television, known for it's costumes as much for it's storyline, which is straight-up soap opera. Airing on ABC, the show was produced by Aaron Spelling (Charlie's Angels) and was known for it's on-screen catfights between dark lady Alexis (Joan Collins) and pure lady Krystle (Linda Evans). The former a vengeful wife of patriarch Blake Carrington, the owner of an oil conglomerate and the latter his new wife, a Madonna vs. Whore concept if you will. And yes, the titular patriarch Blake was a oil company CEO; this show definitely would not be on today. It's a time capsule from the excessive and money-obsessed Reagan-era eighties, a gilded age best displayed in Tom Wolfe's Bonfire of the Vanities. Today, the show would have to display the family, made wealthy by oil, in despair and apologetic for their family business or else as plain villains for anyone to have interest. Instead Dynasty shows them mostly in a sympathetic light as to make one care about their trials and tribulations, and there were many, inthis fucked-up family. Oil and overly rich families with all kinds of problems are just not a good fit today in the economic depression we live after the crash of '08. But I'll save the sociological comments for another post.

The episode I chose to to view was "Foreign Relations" which aired January 23, 1985, and it's an important milestone in the show's history. It was in this season 1984-85 that the series finale was the famous Moldavian massacre; a definite cliffhanger because the star's contracts were in negotiation at the time and it wasn't decided who would come back for the next season. Dynasty was at the height of it's popularity; after this season the ratings began to slip and story lines got more and more over-the-top. This episode sets up all that would come together in the infamous season finale, most especially by introducing an enticing figure to make Blake Carrington's heart palpitate: Lady Ashley Mitchell. Lady Mitchell is introduced as a wife of a former friend of Blake's who helps Blake out in Paris with some Chinese business people (I have no idea what business they were in). Played by Ali MacGraw, Lady Ashley is also a famous photographer.

The episode has also set Krystle up with a flirtatious horseman played by Rock Hudson. This would be the most talked-out guest star as it was revealed midway through the season in the press Rock was dying of AIDS, which just had been discovered in the early 1980s and was creating quite a paranoia at the time. He is noticeably gaunt in the episode, and it's sad to watch. Anyways, his character has been designed to sway Krystle away from Blake, which isn't hard since both Blake and Krystle seem to be hitting a rough spot in their marriage, despite their new baby. How convenient then that Lady Ashley and Rock (I can't remember his character's name) come on the scene. Soap operas, geez.

In other sub-plots Alexis is jealous over her new husband's(Dimitri from All My Children) relationship with her daughter, played by Catherine Oxenberg. A little tidbit: Ms. Oxenberg later married former Paramount Pictures production head (1967-1980) Robert Evans, but would very quickly divorce him because she didn't realize he wanted a sexual relationship!

Fallon's husband has gotten married to a woman who is jealous of Fallon's portrait. Also, Blake and Alexis's gay son is starting to see men again even though he is still married, which causes him to get into a fight with his wife's male friend who seems overly protective of her. I found the relationship between gay son and his architect potential boyfriend credible and not shown in a negative stereotypical man's sorrow at being homosexual, and gay son's relationship isn't pronounced as gay son falling from grace into purgatory.

This about wraps it up for "Foreign Relations" plot points. In terms of acting, one would expect overwrought performances but most were good with the material. Only Fallon's husband's new wife's performance was cliche. Joan Collins was playfully manipulative; you have to love this scheming bitch. Linda Evans is restrained and she is the best actor in the episode; less is more. Rock is not very good, which is understandable and Ali MacGraw's eyes are so entrancing it's hard to judge her performance, I mean the way she flashes her eyes at Blake! Gay son looks like Sting, so it doesn't matter if he can act. Gay son's boyfriend shows credible anguish at his situation being a home wrecker. Only gay son's wife is the truly terrible actress here: hopefully gay son and this whiny thing will get a divorce and she gets off the show or she is killed in the Moldovian massacre.

Technical aspects are unimpressive; television has certainly come a long way since 1985. Hair and makeup and costumes are top-notch.

Until next week (maybe) bon voyage!

No comments:

Post a Comment