BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — “Dynasty” ended nearly 30 years ago, and viewers never looked back, except for a take-the-money-and-run miniseries in ’91 that mostly served as a reminder why “Dynasty” had been canceled in the first place. The ’80s were over, along with the show that either defined or despoiled it (your choice). No reason to look back.
But time erases memories, except those of networks. And so, welcome back, ol’ frenemy.
The CW unveiled its reboot (debuting Oct. 11) to TV writers here Wednesday, and before we get to the questions, catfights, and perhaps catcalls, this brief foreword: It’s not terrible. As if preserved in formaldehyde, the reboot has exhumed most of the rank tropes, cheese and feckless plutocrats of the original (although different actors, different times, of course). The Carringtons have returned to remind us that perhaps the ’80s never ended after all.
Punched up by longtime “Gossip Girl” showrunners Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage — who know a thing or two about rank soap tropes — this “Dynasty” unfolds in the sprawl of Atlanta (not Denver), in a nouveau castle where Blake (Grant Show, “Melrose Place”) directs his family, minions and lovers.
Ruthless overseer of a vast energy conglomerate, he one day summons his adult children to break some big news.
Like the original pilot from so long ago (Jan. 12, 1981), this one sets up the Fallon/Krystal battle line immediately. Fallon — Blake’s daughter — is played by Elizabeth Gillies (long ago by Pamela Sue Martin). Cristal (spelled Krystal in the original series) is his fiancee, played by Nathalie Kelley, once world-famously by Linda Evans. They’ve been updated: Both strong, smart, ambitious and devious, Cristal also happens to be a Latina. Fists will fly, dresses will be defaced (and are, in fact, in the pilot). Meanwhile, Fallon’s brother Steven (James Mackay) is still gay, but this time openly, and proudly (back in the ’80s, not so much).
No Alexis yet, but you can be sure she is coming, probably during a sweeps month. Unknown, or at least unasked, during Wednesday’s show panel session: Will Joan Collins, now 84, make a cameo? (John Forsythe, the original Blake, died in 2010).
Asked what spirit — along with that cheese — they want to bring to this “Dynasty,” Savage said that “when we first sat down with . . . [original show creators Esther and Richard Shapiro] they talked a lot about family. Whatever villainous, terrible thing these characters do, they never stop loving each other. Family is a place you can always come home to, and for them, it’s the reason it held together all those years.”
Plot elements going forward? Take your pick. “We like our shows to deliver on a visceral level,” said Schwartz.
The original “Dynasty” knew visceral by heart, too, and if the past is prologue here, you can expect kidnappings, miscarriages, a strangulation, attempted murder, arson and a terrorist attack. The original jumped the shark over one of those — the infamous Moldavian wedding massacre.
And of course, catfights, preferably in lily ponds, swimming pools and someplace muddy.