'Dynasty' series premiere recap: Could be Dy-nastier

Price Peterson
Writer, Yahoo Entertainment

Warning: This recap of the “Pilot” episode of Dynasty contains spoilers.

Scientists have proven that the human brain can only remember, like, 12 intellectual properties. Thankfully the entertainment industry has generously stepped up to remake, reboot, and re-envision the same things over and over again… to make life easier! Stranger Things was a huge hit because it remade and improved upon major elements from It. And then the new It was a huge hit because it remade and improved upon major elements from Stranger Things. Similarly, Empire rose to instant legend status by borrowing elements from the ’80s primetime soap Dynasty and added a more immediately entertaining music industry spin. Since that worked so well it meant that, yes, it was time to reboot Dynasty but incorporate some of Empire‘s aesthetic. Isn’t that exciting? It’s like we’re all trapped in an entertainment echo chamber! From originals to rip-offs to reboots of originals that are rip-offs, these are truly exciting times to be alive.

The CW’s reboot of Dynasty is fine. Co-created by Josh Schwartz (among others), the first episode is a by-the-numbers pilot laced with Schwartz’s trademark sorta-clever but actually super basic dialogue. That’s a way of saying we should look kindly upon it, as pilots are nearly impossible to get right. Introducing characters, even ones we remember from the previous iteration, isn’t easy, particularly when the pilot also needs to set up plotlines that we’ll want to see play out. Unfortunately, the story was a real snoozefest, and so far there’s no Cookie or Alexis Colby to chew scenery. Still, “Pilot” was worth a watch. Let’s talk about it!

We began with a sassy voiceover that impressed upon us the importance of family-owned businesses. Whether that family’s name is Trump, Kardashian, or in this case, Carrington, nothing is cooler than growing up in a family of robber barons.

The woman giving voiceover was Fallon Carrington (Elizabeth Gillies), the sexy and unscrupulous daughter of Blake Carrington.

Blake Carrington is played here by Melrose Place‘s Grant Show, and this began the trend of what would be my favorite thing about this version of Dynasty… Casting-wise, it’s like a greatest hits of other primetime soaps! We also had Nathalie Kelley (terrific on The Vampire Diaries) as Cristal; Nick Weschler (blue collar on Revenge) as Cristal’s blue collar ex; Rafael de la Fuente (an actual Empire refugee!) as Sammy Jo; Robert Pralgo (The Vampire Diaries and Teen Wolf) as some guy; and Alan Dale (Caleb from The O.C.) as a scheming butler. So yeah, if this show doesn’t exactly catch fire, at least it provided paychecks to a ton of deserving veterans!

Anyway, Fallon was introduced as the voice of the show (if not the most sympathetic character), and her ambitions include running her father’s company and also doing tons of sex with her hunky chauffeur. Living the dream, in other words.

Alan Dale’s butler was a fun and intimidating character, and I loved the scene where he scowled and reflex gagged when Cristal urged him to decorate her engagement party with wildflowers and play Bowie songs. He was all-class and did not need this no-money hussy invading his boss’ perfect home.

The primary plotline of the episode concerned Blake and Cristal’s surprise engagement, and how pretty much everyone in Blake’s life did not approve of him marrying an employee. Fallon tasked her chauffeur to spy on Cristal and he happened to catch Cristal giving a farewell head-bonk to her ex-boyfriend, a married engineer with whom she’d once been in love.

Meanwhile, HE had a wife who was mentally unwell, so I guess we were supposed to feel sorry for him? Anyway, didn’t matter, because the inter-class-love-triangle box had been checked!

As we all knew the Carringtons’ biggest rivals in the original series were the Colbys, and in this version they’re represented by Jeff Colby, a former “financial aid” mentee of Blake Carrington who later became a dot-com billionaire and now Blake hates him. But do you know who doesn’t hate him? Fallon, as she openly attempted to seduce him and later convinced him to start a new business with her that will go head-to-head with her own father’s. Also, the guy’s brooch game was untouchable.

Blake’s gay son Steven (a charming James Mackay) made the mistake of hooking up with a dude he’d met at a bar, and who was later revealed to be a pickpocketing hustler who was maaaaybe Cristal’s secret son. Which meant that, yes, the butler invited him to move into the mansion. Everything will go great, I’m guessing.

In the episode’s truest laugh-out-loud moment, Fallon discovered that her father’s “engagement” party was actually a surprise wedding, so she stole the bride and groom off the cake and bit the bride’s head off while maintaining eye contact with Cristal. The original Dynasty was known for its (hilarious) catfights, which usually entailed male stunt doubles in wigs and shoulder pads tussling across a living room during an unbroken wide shot. So I think we all had certain expectations of what would happen next.

But in this case, it didn’t feel like EITHER of these characters was the catfighting type,  they were both kinda too chill and likable. Anyway, they tussled for a quick second and then called it off. Hope everyone got what they were hoping for out of this!

I also genuinely appreciated the part where Cristal walked down the aisle to David Bowie’s “Modern Love,” which is a guaranteed good time anytime it’s played, in any circumstance. Just so fun and joyful. Points to Dynasty for actually wanting to be a good time rather than the hateful hourlong it could’ve been.

Then a fracking truck exploded and possibly killed Cristal’s blue collar ex-boyfriend! Had it been intentional sabotage designed to kill Blake’s latest deal (and/or his new wife’s ex)? Or a simple accident? His mentally ill wife sure had a theory:

She invaded their wedding and shouted at everybody! Not exactly a cliffhanger, but definitely a memorable moment.

Verdict: Sure? The CW’s Dynasty could get more interesting, especially as new characters are introduced. I think we’re all waiting for word on whether there will be a version of Joan Collins’s infamous villain-superstar added to the mix. But for now, this soap is like baby shampoo: VERY MILD.

Dynasty airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. on The CW.

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