The success of the original “Dynasty” is usually credited to the onset of the Reagan administration in 1981 and the efforts spearheaded by Nancy Reagan to restore a sense of opulence to the White House following the more down-home Carter administration.
But what are we to make of this new “Dynasty,” premiering Wednesday night on The CW? What is it about the present-day cultural and social zeitgeist that makes The CW believe that now is the right time to reboot this old series?
The arrival of the original “Dynasty” was well-timed. It premiered on ABC on January 12, 1981 -- eight days before Ronald Reagan’s first inauguration. (“Dallas” would also benefit from the arrival of the Reagans, although that show had already been on CBS since 1978.)
But the Trumps are not the Reagans. Many people admired the Reagans and their lifestyle, which made the era ripe for the first “Dynasty.” The Trumps? Not so much (to say the least).
That's why it comes as somewhat of a surprise that the very first image you’ll see if you watch The CW's new “Dynasty” is a brief video clip of Donald Trump, his wife and various family members presiding over a ribbon-cutting ceremony.
The clip is then followed by the appearance of Rupert Murdoch and his sons, and then an image of Kris Jenner and the rest of the Kardashians.
A narrator’s voice explains that the images are being used to illustrate the concept of family dynasties in the business world -- a way of introducing the new/old dynasty of this new “Dynasty.”
The fictional family is, of course, the Carringtons. In this new version, they are led by a new Blake Carrington (Grant Show), who has two children -- Steven (played by James Mackay) and Fallon (Elizabeth Gillies). They are the same names as the Carrington offspring in the original.
In this new show, Steven is gay. Not surprisingly, Fallon is a conniving b-word. She emerges from the outset as the show’s central character, and Gillies provides the occasional narration.
Steven and Fallon's mother is apparently divorced from their father. She is unseen in the premiere episode that The CW provided for preview. One hopes she will make a dramatic entrance sometime soon.
In this new “Dynasty,” everyone has a secret, and everyone seems to have a secret plan aimed at undermining someone else. It is a complicated web being woven here, but that doesn’t make the story of these Carringtons interesting, at least for me.
In fact, one of the thoughts that occurred to me at various times while watching the premiere last week was how stupid the whole thing was, as if anyone could care about these people.
The show is designed and being promoted as a guilty pleasure -- something its audience is supposed to know is substance-free and yet they are supposed to enjoy it anyway, perhaps as an escape from their dreary workaday lives.
I have always been wary of the phrase “guilty pleasure” since, to me, the term is synonymous with another phrase: “This thing is a waste of your time.” A “guilty” pleasure? I would rather have pleasure without guilt, thank you very much.
Let the record show that the new series’ two main female characters, Fallon and Christal (Nathalie Kelley) -- Blake’s new, young wife -- get into a no-holds-barred brawl in the premiere episode (photo above) in an apparent homage to Joan Collins and Linda Evans who fought so famously in the original “Dynasty.”
OK, been there, done that. What else have you got?
The new “Dynasty” premieres Wednesday (October 11) at 9 p.m. Eastern on The CW.