Review: ‘Dynasty’

Life's a bitch, and so are most of the memorable characters in any successful primetime sudser. It's no surprise, then, that the absence of Joan Collins from the first season of the otherwise iconic "Dynasty" makes Fox's four-disc collection of the show's early episodes entirely skippable, save for rabid fans or series completists.

Life’s a bitch, and so are most of the memorable characters in any successful primetime sudser. It’s no surprise, then, that the absence of Joan Collins from the first season of the otherwise iconic “Dynasty” makes Fox’s four-disc collection of the show’s early episodes entirely skippable, save for rabid fans or series completists who’ve been waiting years to own a piece of the Carrington clan.

Without Collins vamping it up as Alexis Carrington, the first 13 segs of “Dynasty” feel nothing like the Aaron Spelling-produced series millions spent their Wednesday nights obsessing over during the 1980s.

Blake (John Forsythe), Krystle (Linda Evans) and Fallon (Pamela Sue Martin) are all there, as is troubled gay son Steven (Al Corley). But without Alexis meddling in everyone’s affairs — romantic, financial, or otherwise — all involved seem to be simply going through the motions. Even Bill Conti’s theme song is slightly different from the version most fans of the show would recall.

“Dynasty” would eventually stand on its own as a significant evolution of the sudser genre, but the show’s first episodes aren’t much more than “Dallas” without the Texas twang and with much better designer duds.

What saves the first year of “Dynasty” on DVD from being a complete dud is its usefulness for anyone who joined the show a few years into its run, when it blossomed into a top-10 hit.

Bonus features on the collection are relatively meaty, particularly given the underwhelming nature of the episodes themselves. Series co-creator Esther Shapiro offers commentary on the pilot (and two other episodes), revealing tidbits from the interesting to the bizarre. An overview featurettewould have benefited from the presence of outside observers commenting on the cult of “Dynasty,” however.

Menus are well done, and the box art is distinctive, if misleading: It features a woman in a hat and a veil whom one could easily confuse for Joan Collins. In fact, it’s a model who appeared in the final act of the season-one cliffhanger, holding the place for the as-yet-uncast Collins.

Dynasty

Release: April 19; Four-disc set; $39.98

Production

A 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment release. Exec producers: Esther Shapiro, Richard Shapiro, Aaron Spelling.

Cast

With: John Forsythe, Linda Evans, Pamela Sue Martin, Al Corley.
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