Watching The CW’s remake of “Dynasty,” I had one recurring thought: Where’s the glamour? The lifestyle of the Krystle and Blake Carrington of 1981 was the height of opulence and luxury. The Cristal and Blake Carrington of 2017? Not so much. This modern redo lacks glitz and the characters lean toward dull.
Putting the show in Atlanta doesn’t help. From a production standpoint, I imagine this choice had something to do with Georgia’s tax credits but it’s a lackluster location. Another problem is the set. This is a show about one of the wealthiest families in the country, which means their shelter should induce ooh’s and ah’s. The exterior shots of the Carrington’s house are spectacular but inside it resembles an impersonal country club that could be found in anywhere U.S.A. The properties for sale on “Million Dollar Listing New York” are more enviable domestic spaces.
Also disappointing is the show’s wardrobe. In 1981, Krystle and her rival Alexis were photoshoot ready, at breakfast, lunch and dinner. In the remake, Cristal (Nathalie Kelley) marries Blake (Grant Show) in a plain white jumpsuit after a contentious encounter with Blake’s daughter Fallon (Elizabeth Gillies) ruins her cocktail/wedding dress. I’ve seen more glitzy wedding gowns on “Say Yes to the Dress.” Certainly, it’s difficult to compete with bigger budget shows but a series about dynastic families who have extreme wealth and power deserves a more robust wardrobe allowance.
Not all changes to the series are bad. It is more broad-minded in its character construction. Cristal is Latina and the Colby’s are African-American. Steven Carrington’s (James Mackay) homosexuality is not a secret and in some cases, is used as a dominant plot point. Gillies, as Fallon, is a highlight and her snarky quips bring a much-needed edge and energy to the story but as hardworking as she is, she can’t carry the entire series. Show gives a paint-by-the-numbers performance as Blake that is bland and unmemorable. Alan Dale surprisingly pops up as the Carrington’s butler, which could be interesting if he is given more to do.
The story that sets the action in motion is one of betrayal. When Fallon discovers that Blake is making Cristal (formerly in a publicity role at the company) Carrington Atlantic’s new chief operating officer instead of her, she makes a deal with his rival Jeff Colby (Sam Adegoke). It’s a twist but as far as backstabbing plots go, not the most exciting one. There’s also Cristal’s mysterious past and the introduction of her nephew Sammy Joe (a woman in the original, now a gay man) whose intentions for Steven and his aunt’s new life are suspect. It’s not enough intrigue to make this a satisfying remake of the original, particularly if this “Dynasty” wants to compete with cable and reality TV shows that have raised the bar on depictions of lifestyles of the rich and famous.
“Dynasty” is on Wednesdays at 9 p.m. EDT on The CW.
— Melissa Crawley is the author of “Mr. Sorkin Goes to Washington: Shaping the President on Television’s ‘The West Wing’” and the recently released “The American Television Critic.” She has a Ph.D. in media studies and is a member of the Television Critics Association. To comment on Stay Tuned, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter at @MelissaCrawley.