Dynasty: Season 3
A lot of people have the tendency to make fun of soap operas. The thing is some of these people are not being honest with themselves because millions of people are faithfully watching their ‘stories’. Some of the daytime variations have been running continually through the days of radio and the very advent of television; decade after decade. Some time ago they moved from the day to nighttime. These have traditionally become huge hits and the staple of television programming. Among this lofty collection of shows one stands out as one of the most beloved; ‘Dynasty’. It ran from 1981 to 1989 and helped define that decade. Fans of the series were not just bored housewives. This fact became very real to me when I told my best friend that I was to preview the third season on DVD. He is a man of considerable education and intelligence who happens to be one of the best computer system designers I know. This friend of mine was able to recall the slightest details of cast, characters and plots ever after not seeing the show for decades. Personally I had never gotten into the series but know I found myself anxious to get into it. So I decided to just immerse myself in the decadent fun that made this show such a monster hit. After watching just a few episodes I was hooked and seriously considered getting the first two seasons to start the collection. This is a thing about the format of the soap opera; a well constructed one can become addictive is very short order and this is well considered as among the best ever made. Sue the stories are improbable, crazy even silly at times but it does afford some of the best escapism possible.
‘Dynasty’ is about a rich and powerful family, The Carringtons. Most think that people of such exalted social and financial ranking have the perfect life. What made this show so magnetic to millions was the concept that the rich are more messed up than anyone watching. It is a dark part of human nature but most of us enjoy watching the high and mighty fall. This series showed this wealthy group of people in the most base and petty fights imaginable. The audiences would tune in week after week just to see things like two women in gowns that cost more than anyone watching would make in a month, engage in a cat fight of epic proportions. The characters here are so over the top that you can’t help but to watch in utter fascination. They may be wealthy beyond imagination but they are prone to all the good and bad aspects humanity has in common. They gossip, connive, plot, love, hate and just like we all do only they have a grandeur scale of endeavor. This is the ultimate attraction of the series; we get to see how the rich live and still can feel morally superior to the lot of them.
The patriarch of the Carrington clan is Blake (John Forsythe). He is an oil tycoon and CEO and co-founder of the fabulously successful Denver-Carrington company. Blake is a no nonsense sort of man completely callous in his dealings in business and his family. There is a softer side somewhere deep inside but he generally tries to keep others from seeing it. His second wife Krystle (Linda Evans) started out as the beautiful trophy wife but has matured into a strong willed and suitable match for the powerful Blake. Eventually they will have a child, Krystina, but at this point in the series they are childless. Krystle’s arch enemy is Blake’s first wife, Alexis Morell (Joan Collins). She is epitome of the dreaded ‘B’ word and is not one to refrain from showing her hatred of Krystle. She looks at the woman who replaced her, first in Blake’s bed and then in his life, as a low life tramp and beneath her. Alexis has given Blake four children; Adam (Gordon Thomson), Steven (first Al Corley and then Jack Coleman), Fallon (Pamela Sue Martin) and Amanda (Catherine Oxenberg). Adam shows up in the first episode of this third season. It turns out that he was kidnapped as an infant and never found. This became a deep, dark secret, especially from the other children. His return brings even more chaos to the clan and provides a great male villain when Adam goes after what is rightfully his as first born. Stephen is the gay son which back in the early eighties was unheard of on television. The part started out with Al Corley but after an accident on an oil rig and being believed dead he returns in season three a different man. I mean that literally, the part was now done by Jack Coleman, best know to ‘Heroes’ fans as Horn Rim Glasses. This is an old trick in soap operas when an actor leaves the series but the character is just too interesting to out right kill off. Having a gay character was controversial and helped procure a place in TV history for Dynasty. Since the two female leads what many would call ‘cougars’ there is a need for some younger women for the male viewers. One of the fan favorites was Fallon. In this season she suspects Claudia Blaisdel (Pamela Bellwood) of kidnapping Fallon’s son. Yes, kidnapping seems to run in the family. The last child of Blake and Alexis, Amanda, would not show up until season five. This is also a hallmark of true soap operas, new family members just seem to pop up out of nowhere.
Towards the middle of the season Dynasty breaks into to full out soap opera mode. There is a psychic who helps Blake look for his lost son, Steven. Jeff Colby (John James) is the son of the rival of the Carrington family and has been in love with Fallon for years eventually marrying her. In the later half of the season he become ill and starts to become increasingly violent. Sammy Jo (Heather Locklear) decides to run off to become a model deserting her son, Danny whom she had with Steven. Blake offers a girl $100,000 to take the child but she refuses. Krystal tries to up the offer but the girl continues to decline. The season becomes increasingly involved with fantastic plot lines that would put any day time soap to shame.
It was with this season that Dynasty finally broke into the top ten in the television ratings. It is one of the best seasons of the run and many people became fans during this season. The plots just pull you in. From the first episode when Blake is rescued from the second season cliffhanger through the kidnapping of his namesake grandson there is more action, betrayal and family fights that anyone could imagine. Cliffhangers were just part of the fun here. Almost every week something would happen that would portend ill for one or members of the Carrington extended family. Then, at the start of the next week’s episode all would be resolved until the next dreadful and potentially deadly situation would arise.
Paramount-CBS brings the third season to DVD with two separate volumes. The first covers the initial 12 episodes while the second volume completes the season. Many don't like it when a studio splits a season but it does keep the cost down. Some, like me, will watch these episodes and instantly become hooked. In either case this is a series that was historical and helped set the standard for the plethora of night time soaps that followed. It is pure fun and greatly entertaining so get it and enjoy.