Dynasty -- A Modern Masterpiece?

The original Dynasty was an ABC soap opera airing from 1981 to 1989, revolving around the wealthy Carrington family. For a while, it was the number one show to watch in America. So how is the reboot faring?

This time around, Dynasty is airing on The CW and Netflix, and it's went all-out to appear flashy and refreshed. The story still centers on the Carringtons and their multi-billion dollar company, and all the drama that comes with running a worldwide empire. But it also gives a peek behind closed doors -- the Carringtons might live in an impeccable manor household, however the family themselves are anything but.

The gorgeous and devious Fallon Carrington seems to be one of the main attractions of the show, played by talented Elizabeth Gillies. Liz has previous experience with playing a typical difficult and out-spoken character, given her time gaining fame on Nickelodeon's Victorious in which she played the spiteful and sharp-tongued Jade West. She has all the key characteristics nailed; body language in the form of eye rolls, scowls, hair flips, and dismissive hand waves; attitude in the form of sarcasm and quick wit; and all the fiery passion of a young woman who wants it all. Not to mention, Fallon is soon shown to have, satisfyingly, more depth than just being the popular mean girl. Her past has left her vulnerable, something Fallon herself would never admit, and perhaps lets viewers know that part of her business drive is because of abandonment issues and a desperate need to over-achieve. Nevertheless, Fallon is exciting to watch -- when she shows up onscreen, there's no doubt there will be scheming afoot, or at least a chuckle when she lashes out with an insult. She's the girl you love to hate (and still find yourself rooting for anyway).

Most of her aggression ends up directed at Cristal Carrington, her father's young new wife, who was offered up Fallon's desperately wanted position at the family company. Nathalie Kelley plays Cristal in the reboot, and sadly, that's where things start to fall a little flat. As beautiful as Cristal is, and dramatic as her past may be, her scenes often seem lacklustre. She doesn't have the same fire that Fallon has, despite growing every bit as angry. There's just something somewhat mousy about Nathalie's performance, which doesn't seem fitting for Cristal, when she has such a colourful and painful past.

Granted, this past of Cristal's definitely makes for some gasp-worthy drama, especially when it's causing all manner of complications for her new husband. Blake Carrington, portrayed by Grant Show, has the right look of a man running an empire. He's blase and brisk; quite hard to read. Not the sort of character you fall in love with right away (or perhaps ever) but he's still likeable. Oftentimes, however, he and Cristal seem like an odd match (and not just because there's twenty or so years of an age difference between them -- she could just as easily be his daughter too) and it's hard to imagine how their romance started, or indeed, continued to the point of marriage.

Two other young men living in the Carrington household are Steven Carrington and Sam 'Sammy Jo' Jones, Blake's son and Cristal's nephew, respectively. Steven, played by James Mackay, is as amusing and dry as his younger sister Fallon, and much like the original Dynasty, is played as gay. However, in this version, being in the modern age that we are, his homosexuality isn't a secret. He's openly gay and comfortable with it, as is Sam, played by Rafael de la Fuente. Sam comes to the Carrington household in need of a place to stay and becomes the family layabout, finding himself without a purpose yet often getting himself in trouble.

The series itself has been slow in producing character development, perhaps focusing too much on the plot twists to keep viewers coming back for more. Although, it is entertaining to watch the incredibly, lavishly rich people throw their money around in whatever way possible. Fortunately, they don't go overboard, but there's a pull of getting to watch how the other half live.

One person that can always be counted on to pick up a scene that's dragging (often by the likes of Cristal) is Alan Dale, who portrays Joseph Anders, the loyal majordomo to the Carrington household for decades. He's judgemental and his quick wit rivals that of Fallon's, as does his initial dislike for the new Mrs. Carrington on the block. His subtly snide remarks are almost guaranteed to be met with laughter from any audience.

The addition of three notable characters played by black actors is also something worth mentioning. Jeff Colby (Sam Adegoke), one of Blake's business rivals and Fallon's business partner, and Michael Culhane (Robert Christopher Riley), the Carrington chauffeur, are two forces to be reckoned with. And not just because Fallon has a thing for both of them, causing havoc right from episode one. Sleeping with the hired help or business partners never seems like a clever idea, but Fallon's confidence and ambition certainly does not stop at her sex life. Jeff's sister Monica, played by Wakeema Hollis, is Fallon's closest (and seemingly only) friend, often trying to talk her out of her selfish ways but to no avail.

There's no question that the show is fun, and has just enough of that soap opera flair to let viewers know exactly where its roots lie. But there really is no deeper layer to it, at least not yet. The series is still early days, with only a fraction of the first season currently aired. The depth may come later, just like avid fans are hoping the first Mrs. Carrington will too, just like the original. Legendary Joan Collins played Alexis Carrington in the original, Blake's first wife, and with any luck, the reboot has someone truly spectacular up their sleeves to do her justice this time around.

In many ways, while there's no need to compare the two shows, this version of Dynasty is a step up. Apart from obviously improved technically, the inclusion of central African-American and Latin-American characters and Steven's unquestioned embracing of his sexuality (which doesn't get used as a tacky punchline to a joke every ten minutes) are things of great importance.

Even if you're on the fence, Dynasty is definitely worth a watch if you like your television shows to come with a dramatic flair.

And if you were a fan of the original and aren't sure if this version will live up to it, perhaps knowing that Esther and Richard Shapiro, the original creators of the 80s soap, are executive producers on the 2017 remake, might just seal the deal for you.

Dynasty airs Wednesday nights at 9PM on The CW, and a new episode is available on Netflix internationally every Thursday!

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