An Honest Review Of 'Dynasty' By Someone Who's Never Seen The Original

It's 'Gossip Girl,' all grown up.
PHOTO: Dynasty/CBS Television Distribution

The Long Plot, Sans Spoilers

Based on the 1980s TV series of the same name, the story follows Fallon Carrington, daughter of the domineering Blake Carrington and heiress to his multibillion-dollar energy corporation. She's also got a brother, Steven, once-estranged but back to learn the corporate ropes. As is the tradition with family businesses, Fallon relied on the concept of hereditary monarchy, hoping the position would fall into her lap—but Cristal Flores, Blake's new fiancée, has other plans. Fallon plots with her chauffeur (and part-time lover) Michael Culhane to try and reveal Cristal's dark past, but the plan backfires. Fallon is forced to play a notorious card: team up with Blake's direct competitor, Jeff Colby...and it doesn't hurt that they've got sexual tension. Meanwhile, Sammy Jo—Cristal's mischievous nephew and Steven's new flame—has secrets to tell about the new Mrs. Carrington. All will be revealed in time, but not before some explosive drama rocks the family to its core.

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The Short, Honest Plot

Two families battle it out for corporate supremacy and sweet, petty victory. Thanks to executive producers Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage, who were responsible for creating our "one and only source into the scandalous lives of Manhattan's elite." It's Gossip Girl all grown up.

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The Main Actors and Where They Started

Elizabeth Gillies as Fallon Carrington

Liz Gillz is all grown up. You may recognize her from late-aughts TV shows like Victorious, iCarly, Big Time Rush, and Sam & Cat.

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Nathalie Kelley as Cristal Carrington

The Peruvian-Australian actress has been on Unreal and The Vampire Diaries, and she also played the love interest in Bruno Mars' smash single "Just The Way You Are."

Grant Show as Blake Carrington

He's best known for his role as Jake Hanson in the '90s series Melrose Place, but more recently you may have spotted him on Devious Maids and The Family.

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James Mackay as Steve Carrington

From Hacksaw Ridge to Pirates of the Caribbean, James sure is getting some great movie gigs, but his extensive theater experience makes his acting even more compelling.

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Rafael de la Fuente as Sam "Sammy Jo" Flores

He played Michael on Empire—Jamal did him so wrong!—and then moved on to guest roles in Chasing LA and American Horror Story: Cult before landing this role. #MichaelDeservedBetter

Robert Christopher Riley as Michael Culhane

You've seen him on The Bourne Legacy, Underground, and Elementary (the gamers among you might even recognize his voice on Grand Theft Auto V).

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Sam Adegoke as Jeff Colby

Best known for his role as Javon Beard in Michael Jackson: Searching for Neverland, Sam was also in Switched at Birth and Murder in the First.

Did You Know?

1. In the original series, Sammy Jo is actually a woman, but showrunner Sallie Patrick and the creative team decided that the role should be transformed to that of a gay man.

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2. There's a lot of new (and highly welcomed) diversity in this 2017 reboot: for one, Cristal (spelled Krystle in the 1981 original) is Hispanic. Michael and Jeff, whom we're likely to see fighting head-to-head for Fallon's affection, are both African-American.

3. The original series featured an expressively homophobic Blake, which serves as the root of Steve's conflict as a character. This time, though, the showrunners decided to focus on political differences rather than sexuality-related ones, according to The Variety.

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What I Think:

I had never even heard of the original Dynasty series until last week. That said, I've seen all the episodes of Gossip Girl, so I'm highly familiar with the production values that often accompany Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage's work. Which is to say that sometimes, the intrinsic lavishness of their shows can result in a lack of sincerity. I'm not saying that in terms of production design and plot that they should be dialing it back; I'm saying that even TV shows with ambitious, filthy-rich characters need to be carrying a compelling enough motivation behind all the manipulation. There's definitely no shortage of the catty comebacks, full-on hair-pulling, and high-stakes corporate drama that Gossip Girl'’s made us accustomed to. But for a show involving older, more accomplished characters, this pilot episode left me wanting.

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It's also interesting to note that the edgy, magnetic Elizabeth Gillies anchors the show with a finesse you'd expect from a veteran actor. Her facial expressions are calculated and her line delivery is satisfying to see through. James Mackay is enjoyable as Steve, so let's hope the show does him justice by giving him a solid character arc (the tension between him and Blake gives the writers much to work with). Cristal, on the other hand, has yet to truly impress me. Whether it's because her secrets are yet to be revealed or Nathalie Kelley's admittedly lukewarm portrayal (at least in the pilot episode), I have yet to confirm. I'll definitely be tuning in to see the rest of the season, even though the scriptwriting is nothing out of the ordinary. That's the thing with shows that engineer conflict like this. They tend to get predictable, but predictable doesn't necessarily mean mediocre.

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I'd Recommend It To:

Anyone who enjoys Gossip Girl, Empire, or any TV series involving impossibly wealthy families, love triangles (or squares, or pentagons), and drama, drama, drama. Most of the cast is relatively under the radar, so don't come for star power. Fashion lovers will enjoy the luxe ensembles on the show as well. Lastly, anyone who's ever felt out of place or unrecognized in their family might relate to Fallon's internal struggle. Give it a watch this weekend.

Follow Chandra on Twitter and Instagram.

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