Tuesday, October 24, 2017

TV: A reboot done right

A little diversity comes to the Whitest of all genres -- the prime time soap opera.  THE CW's DYNASTY reboot attempts to drag the eighties relic into this century by making Jeff Colby and chauffer Michael African-American while Sammy Jo and Crystal are now Hispanic.

Next up?

Dominque Deveraux becomes prime time's first transgender bitch?

a new illst

The mind reels at possible casting.

For talent, they go with Laverne Cox;  for oversaturated media coverage, they go with Caitlyn Jenner; and for a nod to the long historical acknowledgement maybe Caroline Cossey?

The world has tilted but
The world has expanded
And the world has turned
My world upside down
Cause the night is warm and all full of stars

-- "Scar," written by Carly Simon, first appears on her album THE BEDROOM TAPES

Those are just three names -- three well known names -- and the fact that there are so many more goes to how much the world has expanded since 1981.

This is touched on most with the characters of Sammy Jo and Fallon.

A shot of Sammy Jo in a shirt unbuttoned to the waist captures the curve of Sammy Jo's breast only this isn't a Heather Locklear lookalike.

Sammy Jo is now Sammy Joe or just "Sam" and he's Crystal's nephew (played by Rafael de la Feunte).

Hopefully, this means this go round the actor playing Steven, James Mackay, won't have the problems Al Corely did on the original series -- one week Steven's gay, the next he isn't.

The character was written gay by Esther and Richard Shapiro but the network (ABC) got very skittish repeatedly.  So gay Steven had an affair with Claudia and then ended up married to Sammy Jo.

This after his homphobic father Blake Carrington killed Steven's ex-lover Ted for the 'crime' of hugging.

James Mackay plays Steven with just enough dork that you can see him falling head over heels for Sam and Sam manipulating the hell out of him.

This storyline has huge promise.

Even more so when you factor in that Rafael and Elizabeth Gillies (Fallon) are the show's standouts.

Take the scene where Fallon's speaking to her brother Steven.

Fallon: What's up your ass this morning?

Sam walks in.

Fallon: Hmm.  Never mind.

Gillies' character gets all the lines but the moment between her and de la Fuente's is the stuff good soaps are built on -- pure melodrama.

Elizabeth Gillies' Fallon also benefits from the time traveled.

Wonderfully played by Pamela Sue Martin in the original series, Fallon was talented, smart and ambitious.  But she's unable to move forward in her father's company and never finds any real success (outside of bed) until season four when she's in charge of a hotel.

Pamela Sue Martin brought Fallon to life -- more than can be said for the writers.  They seemed unable to visualize a successful business woman.  (Even Alexis' 'success' was not real -- it was motivated by the desire to crush Blake -- and she'd repeatedly risk it in attempts to do just that.  Alexis was far more lucky than talented.)

Fallon's not a stunted daddy's girl this go round.

Yes, she's still got daddy issues but she's also got ambition and goes after business opportunities.

It's amazing to look back at 1981 and grasp that even a show co-written by a woman (Esther Shapiro) couldn't see a company business role for a young woman.

Linda Evans played Krystal Carrington in the original.  Her character suffered repeatedly.

Nathalie Kelley's Cristal Flores Carrington doesn't really suffer.  She's just a bitch to Fallon -- at one point, she even pushes Fallon into an open grave at a cemetery.

A soap -- a good one -- needs victims for the victimizers to target or, if you prefer, 'good guys.'

It can be a thankless role.

This time around, it appears that role will go to James Mackay's Steven who is the only well meaning character on the show thus far.

Grant Show deserves credit for his conception of Blake Carrington.

He's made him far more interesting than John Forsythe ever did.  You don't picture him, for instance, telling the producers that Blake and Cristal can't cheat on each other.

And you can picture him cheating on Cristal.

What is she to him but a possession?

He takes a fancy to her and then wants her and it doesn't bother him a bit that she's also with another guy (Matthew).

It's a more honest concept of Blake than the crap Forsythe served up -- a sexist and homophobic man the country was supposed to worship.  That was part of the reason the series struggled so in season one and part of why Joan Collins' Alexis was so warmly welcomed by viewers in season two.  Here was a character who wasn't intimidated by Blake, who didn't worship him, who told her gay son that she loved him.

Grant Show's Blake may end up a lovable rogue but right now Show's not afraid to play unlovable colors and to sketch out a complex character.

Season one of the reboot already trumps season one of the original.  If THE CW sticks with the show, this DYNASTY could end up their biggest series.

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