Dynasty: Season 4 v2
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Dynasty: Season 4 v2

Soap operas may generally be considered a form of entertainment that panders to the lowest possible denominator but in truth it is more a combination of the ideal guitly pleasure and a strange incarnation of Vox popular. What started as a way for housewives to pass the time after her chores are done has now become the defining form of storytelling on Television. Just about every genre now exhibits many of the fundamental elements of the belabored format. There is a simple reason; this is the most time proven and successful way to tell a story. Serialized story telling was popular on radio, in newspapers and magazines as well as way back in time with verbally related tales. Every network now proximately features a prime time soap opera or two in their main line up but all these shows owe much of their popularity to the genre’s trailblazer; ‘Dynasty’. For much of eighties this series kept people in at night and provided the best water cooler chat in the office the next morning. ‘Dynasty’ may not have been the first prime soap opera but it was among the first of its ilk to transcend mere TV popularity to become a driving force in popular culture. The DVD set under consideration here is the second half of season four. The series was listed as number three in the ratings well on its way to taking the top spot the next year. That makes these episodes among the most watched in soap opera history. For many of us watching the episodes contained in this release will be like stepping into a time machine going back some twenty six years. Of course mot all those memories will be ones we wax nostalgically over. I don’t know many women who would want to go back to the big, teased hair and huge shoulder pads that were the basis for many of the ladies fashions displayed here. I think women had to go through the doorways sideways because of the sheer width of their shoulder padding.

The series worked so well because it offered the audience the perfect vicarious experience. Most people are curious about how the rich and powerful live and here you got to see the grandeur of their surroundings and the rare power such people wield. There would be another even more compulsive aspect of the series that created a legion of loyal fans. People traditionally love to see the character flaws in the same rich folk they envy. Just about each week we got to watch as these super wealthy people fight, bicker and plot against each other. It allowed us regular people feel superior to those of a much higher social strata. Of course, the prime element of this type of series is well explored, or perhaps exploited; sex. The people in this series have more sex than an old time brothel. They should have included some sort of on line database or flow chart to help the viewers keep track of all the relationships, hook-ups and break-ups. A similar tracking system would be most helpful keeping up with the plots and machinations that are in a state of constant flux. Here business deals are also as ephemeral as a one night stand.

Blake Carrington (John Forsythe) ultimate power broker s the CEO and co- founder of one of the world’s largest oil companies; Denver-Carrington Oil. He is also the patriarch of his family. To him the methodology of being the head of a family and the company is exactly the same; never yield and take no prisoners. Such ruthless behavior has made him a cut throat success in business but has made him generally hated by most of his large family. His second wife, Krystle (Linda Evans), is not far behind him in that department. She has a way about her that would put Niccolò Machiavelli to shame. Krystle was an expert at manipulating those around her and getting her own way. Her arch nemesis was the first wife; Alexis Morell (Joan Collins).she is the pure incarnation of evil that that goes a long way on this series. Getting in the way of one of their all out cat fights would be painful and lethal. One of the things on this series that people would tune in to catch was the raging fights between these overly coifed women. They could escalate a disagreement to a hair pulling match in record time and come across less tasteful than a brawl on Jerry Springer. Let’s face it rich women in expensive gowns knocking each other around; priceless. The second part of season four pulls out all the best material from the soap opera playbook. There is even a rare three part episode making a little mini story arc. Blake’s sexually easy daughter (Pamela Sue Martin) has a fall and is hospitalized unconscious. As the family gathers and the crocodile tears flow the devious ladies’ man Peter De Vilbis (Helmut Berger) hurries off to intercept a drug shipment. Soon afterwards Krystle is told by her OB/GYN that she is pregnant. She and Blake are ecstatic but there is important business in China to deal with. The deal proves to almost ruin Blake but he manages to avoid the worse of it. Pregnancy, elaborate weddings, murder plots and comas are just part of the daily lives of the Carrington family. It has to be remembered that this season took place in a point in time before AIDS became rampart and multiple sexual partners were more acceptable. It was also a time when cocaine was the upscale drug of choice and ‘greed was good’ in the fast pace business world. This series, particularly many of these episodes here encapsulates this specific point in time perfectly.

Posted 01/26/2010

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