The much-hyped reboot of 80s super soap Dynasty has finally arrived on Netflix, but how does it compare to the iconic original and which elements have been retained?
The basic premise is intact – we follow the fortunes of a wealthy but dysfunctional American family as they grapple for power in the bedroom and the boardroom, with backstabbing, business deals and catfights aplenty.
There are tweaks from the original concept that put a contemporary spin on the characters – remember this is a reimagining, not a continuation like the 2012 revival of it’s counterpart Dallas so we’re starting from scratch.
So what feels familiar and what’s changed as we catch up with the Carringtons in 2017, and do all the differences work?
Then… Entrepreneurial patriarch of a powerful clan with a brood of unruly grown-up kids, an absent ex-wife and a new, considerably younger, fiancée that started as an eyebrow-raising office romance.
Now… Blake is pretty much the same, with grizzled Melrose Place star Grant Show doing a solid turn as the head of the family, though he’s more reminiscent of Donald Trump than John Forsythe’s wholesome Ronald Reagan-alike 1981 version. One of the least-tinkered with characters.
Then… Blake’s eldest daughter was a tough, feisty and often tragic heroine with a big heart and a fierce loyalty to her family. Her love life was a mess and she was famously abducted by aliens.
Now… Daddy’s little princess is now a poisonous, power-hungry bitch. In the absence of mum Alexis (so far, more of her later) Blake’s daughter is the baddie of 2017, clashing with new stepmum Cristal over her father’s affections and desperate to seize control of family firm Carrington Atlantic. A very different approach.
Then… Sweet, blonde and nice as apple pie, Krystle Jennings was the softly-spoken secretary who married the billionaire boss and had to convince his suspicious family she wasn’t a gold-digger.
Now… Hispanic Cristal Flores is evidence the reboot is addressing the diversity issue from the predominantly white original. Catching Blake’s eye as associate PR at his company before becoming the next Mrs C, she has a harder edge than Linda Evans’s goodie-two-shoes portrayal – her and Fallon share the first catfight of the series in episode one. An ex-boyfriend and a troublesome relative soon reveal she has a shady past.
Then… Gay Steven struggled with his sexuality and for acceptance from his homophobic father. In a bid to fit in he tried playing it straight by way of an ill-advised romance with Krystle’s minxy niece Sammy Jo.
Now… Steven is out of the closet and Blake couldn’t be happier – even using his son’s sexuality in the hope he’d seduce a gay client into sealing a business deal. He’s still a sensitive soul who wants no part in the toxic family politics.
Then… Gold-digging minx Samantha Josephine was Krystle’s nubile niece, immortalized by 80s pin-up Heather Locklear. A girl from the wrong side of the tracks, she followed her classy aunt to the Carrington mansion and schemed her way in for a slice of the family fortune.
Now… The big difference here is the gender swap with the character now a gay man called Samuel Josiah Jones, but it’s a neat update to have Steven’s love life still complicated by the presence of his stepmother’s raunchy relative. Like his female 80s counterpart, Sammy Jo is minxy bag of trouble and one to watch.
Then… The heir to the throne of the Carringtons’ rival clan the Colbys, good guy Jeff grew up with Fallon and the pair had a Romeo and Juliet style romance that eventually grew into its own spin-off, The Colbys.
Now… In another effort to increase diversity among the cast, the Colbys are now African American and still fulfil the role of contemporaries/enemies of the Carringtons. Jeff and Fallon went to high school together and there’s a definite spark – it seems likely they’ll get together.
Then… Loyal manservant to Blake who ran the Carrington mansion from below stairs. Initially wary of his master’s new missus, Joseph and Krystle eventually became firm friends.
Now… There’s a touch of Mrs Danvers from Rebecca in Alan Dale’s edgy performance as the butler, whose dislike of Cristal is immediately more sinister. We can’t see them hitting it off.
Then… Krystle’s blue collar ex, married to the wobbly Claudia, and a former employee of Blake’s business Denver-Carrington. He was later thought to have died in an accident in the Peruvian jungle but in true vintage Dynasty style came back from the dead a few years later.
Now… Overall little has changed with Mr Blaisdel – still vying with Blake for Cristal’s heart – but a tragic twist to the opening episode means we might not get the chance to see how he develops…
Then… Fragile Claudia suffered a mental breakdown and was abandoned by hubby Matthew who had fallen for his boss’s squeeze. Claudia’s demons eventually consumed her and she died in a fire she’d started at a hotel.
Now… We’ve not seen much of her yet, but Claudia is still struggling with mental health and playing second fiddle to Cristal in Matthew’s heart. But the shock ending of episode one sets up a vendetta for Claudia against the Carringtons akin to the character’s tragic story arc in the original. Fans of classic Dynasty will be hoping she doesn’t get her hands on any candles…
Then… Blake’s first wife and the mother of his children, Joan Collins made evil Alexis TV’s most famous bitch as she played out with malevolent glee her quest to destroy her ex. Deceptive, duplicitous, sexy, powerful with a wild wardrobe of shoulder pads and opulent accessories encapsulating the excesses of 80s fashion, she was the female equivalent of JR Ewing.
Now… She’s not actually in it yet, but Alexis didn’t appear in the original until the first season finale when she returned to the family she’d abandoned years before, and even then it was under a wide-brimmed hat as the role hadn’t been cast. Who could possibly fill Dame Joan’s shoes if Alexis turns up at some point? Our dream recasts would be Kristin Scott Thomas or Catherine Zeta-Jones…
The first episode of Dynasty is available now on Netflix with new episodes being added every Thursday.
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