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Dynasty is an Americanmarker prime time television soap opera that aired on ABC from January 12, 1981 to May 11, 1989. It was created by Richard and Esther Shapiro and produced by Aaron Spelling, and revolved around the Carringtons, a wealthy oil family living in Denvermarker, Coloradomarker. Starring John Forsythe and Linda Evans as oil magnate Blake Carrington and his new wife Krystle, Dynasty was ABC's derivation of the hit CBS prime time serial Dallas.

Though at first coming nowhere near the ratings of Dallas, the second season arrival of Joan Collins as Blake's scheming first wife Alexis heralded Dynasty rise into the Top 20, and in 1985 the series hit #1. Dynasty spawned a successful line of fashion and luxury products and even a spin-off series, but by 1987 had dropped to #24. After nine seasons, Dynasty was canceled in 1989.


Producer Spelling, already well-known for his successful ABC series including Starsky and Hutch, Charlie's Angels, The Love Boat, Fantasy Island, Vega$, and Hart to Hart, took on Richard and Esther Shapiro's vision of a rich and powerful family who "lived and sinned" in a forty-eight room Denver mansion. The working title for Dynasty was Oil, and the starring role originally went to George Peppard. In early drafts of the pilot script, the two main families featured in the series were known as the Parkhursts and Corbys; by the time production began, they had been renamed the Carrington and Colbys. Peppard, who had difficulties dealing with the somewhat unsympathetic role of patriarch Blake Carrington, was quickly replaced with Forsythe (who voiced the eponymous Charlie in Spelling's Charlie's Angels). Filmed in 1980, the pilot was among many delayed due to a strike precipitated by animosity between the television networks and the partnership of the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists. Dynasty finally premiered on ABC as a three-hour event on January 12, 1981.

Series history

The Carringtons

As Dynasty begins on January 12, 1981, powerful oil tycoon Blake Carrington (Forsythe) is about to marry the younger Krystle Jennings (Evans), his former secretary. Beautiful, earnest, and new to Blake's world, Krystle finds a hostile reception in the Carrington household — the staff patronizes her, and Blake's headstrong and promiscuous daughter Fallon (Pamela Sue Martin) resents her. Though devoted to Krystle, Blake himself is too preoccupied with his company, Denver-Carrington, and blind to Krystle's predicament. Her only ally is her stepson Steven (Al Corley), whose complicated relationship with Blake stems from their fundamental political differences and Steve's resistance to step into his role as future leader of the Carrington empire. Meanwhile Fallon, better suited to follow in Blake's footsteps, as a woman is underestimated by — and considered little more than a trophy to — father Blake. She channels her energies into toying with various male suitors, including the Carrington chauffeur Michael Culhane (Wayne Northrop). At the end of the three-hour premiere episode "Oil," Steven finally confronts his father, criticizing Blake's capitalistic values and seemingly-amoral business practices. Blake explodes, revealing the secret of which Steven thought his father was unaware: Blake is disgusted by Steven's homosexuality, and his refusal to "conform" sets father and son at odds for some time.

In counterpoint to the Carringtons are the Blaisdels; Denver-Carrington geologist Matthew (Bo Hopkins) — unhappily married to the emotionally fragile Claudia (Pamela Bellwood) — is Krystle's ex-lover. Returning from an extended assignment in the Middle East, Matthew quits and goes into business with wildcatter Walter Lankershim, and as Blake's behavior begins pushing Krystle towards Matthew, the men are set as both business and romantic rivals. Blake is further enraged when Steven goes to work for longtime friend Matthew, in whom Steven sees qualities lacking in Blake. Though previously in a relationship with another man, Steven finds himself drawn to Claudia, who is putting her life back together after spending time in a psychiatric hospital. Fallon makes a secret business deal with Blake's old friend and more-powerful business rival Cecil Colby (Lloyd Bochner), marrying his nephew Jeff (John James) to secure Cecil's financial assistance for her father. When Blake stumbles upon Steven in an innocent goodbye embrace with his former lover Ted Dinard (Mark Withers), Blake angrily pushes the two men apart; Ted falls backward and hits his head, the injury proving fatal. Blake is arrested and charged with murder, and an angry Steven testifies that Ted's death had been the result of malicious intent. A veiled surprise witness for the prosecution appears in the season finale "The Testimony," and Fallon gasps in recognition: "Oh my God, that's my mother!"

Enter Alexis

In the first episode of the second season, titled "Enter Alexis," the mysterious witness removes her sunglasses to reveal Britishmarker actress Joan Collins as a new arrival to the series. Collins' Alexis Carrington blazed a trail across the show and its storylines; the additions of Collins and the "formidable writing team" of Eileen and Robert Mason Pollock are generally credited with Dynasty's subsequent rise in the Nielsen Ratings. The Pollocks "soft-pedaled the business angle" of the show and "bombarded viewers with every soap opera staple in the book, presented at such a fast clip that a new tragedy seemed to befall the Carrington family every five minutes." Alexis' testimony nonwithstanding, Krystle is immediately put off by the former Mrs. Carrington's condescending attitude and manipulations; Krystle's subsequent discovery that Alexis had caused Krystle's miscarriage by intentionally startling her horse with a gunshot settles Alexis as Krystle's implacable nemesis. Other new characters of the season are the psychiatrist Nick Toscanni (James Farentino), who tries to seduce Krystle while bedding Fallon and plotting against Blake, and Krystle's greedy niece Sammy Jo Dean (Heather Locklear), who marries Steven for his money. The season finale sees Blake left for dead on a mountain after a fight with Nick. By that time, Dynasty had entered the Top 20.In the third season, Alexis marries Cecil on his deathbed and acquires his company, Colbyco. In the meantime, Adam Carrington (Gordon Thomson), the long-lost son of Alexis and Blake who had been kidnapped in infancy, reappears in Denver. Also introduced are Krystle's ex-husband, tennis pro Mark Jennings (Geoffrey Scott), and Joseph's daughter Kirby Anders (Kathleen Beller), who weds Jeff after his divorce from Fallon. In the middle of the season, news that Steven has been killed in an accident in Indonesia comes to the Carringtons; he survives, but undergoes plastic surgery and returns to Denver portrayed by Jack Coleman. In the third season cliffhanger, Alexis lures Krystle to Steven's cabin and the two are locked inside while the cabin is set ablaze by an unseen arsonist (later revealed to be Joseph).

With the show's popularity soaring in the fourth season, former President Gerald Ford guest-starred as himself in 1983, along with his wife Betty and former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. New characters included the charming and ambitious Farnsworth "Dex" Dexter (Michael Nader), the unscrupulous playboy Peter De Vilbis (Helmut Berger), and Blake's illegitimate half-sister, Dominique Deveraux (Diahann Carroll). The main storylines included a custody battle between Steven and Blake over Steven and Sammy Jo's son Danny, and a false accusation of illegal weapons dealings orchestrated by Alexis to ruin Blake's financial empire. In the season finale, Fallon disappears just before her second wedding to Jeff (now divorced of Kirby) as her car seemingly collides with a truck on a stormy night (to accommodate the departure of Pamela Sue Martin from the series), while Alexis is arrested for the murder of Mark Jennings.

In the fifth season, Alexis is exonerated and her secret daughter Amanda Bedford comes to Denver and discovers that Blake is her father. Steven leaves his second wife Claudia for a man, and Sammy Jo discovers she is the heiress to a huge fortune. At the end of the season, an amnesiac Fallon, now portrayed by actress Emma Samms, reappears while the rest of the family go to Europe for the wedding of Amanda and Prince Michael of Moldavia. During the season, the series attracted controversy when Rock Hudson's real-life HIV-positive status was revealed after a romantic storyline between his character Daniel Reece and Evans' Krystle. Driven by the new head writer and producer Camille Marchetta, who had devised the wildly-successful 'Who Shot J.R.?' scenario on Dallas five years earlier, Dynasty eventually hit #1 that year.

The "Moldavian Massacre"

Undoubtedly the most famous Dynasty cliffhanger is the so-called "Moldavian massacre" during the May 1985 season finale. Amanda and Michael's royal wedding is interrupted by terrorists in a military coup of Moldavia, riddling the chapel with bullets and leaving all of the major characters lying seemingly lifeless. It became the most talked-about episode of any TV series during the calendar year of 1985, with a viewership of sixty million. When the series resumed in the fall, viewers quickly learned that only two minor characters had died: Steven's boyfriend, Luke Fuller (Billy Campbell), and Jeff's love interest, Lady Ashley Mitchell (Ali McGraw). In the 2006 CBS special Dynasty Reunion: Catfights & Caviar, Gordon Thomson reiterated that it was the follow-up that was the letdown, not the cliffhanger itself. Joan Collins was conspicuously absent from the season six opener; she was in a tense contract renegotiation with the show, seeking an increased salary. As a result, the first episode had to be rewritten to explain her absence and many scenes were given to Krystle. Collins's demands were met (she reportedly signed a $60,000 per episode contract) and she returned to the series in the season's second episode.

The decline of the Dynasty

Forsythe and the women of Season Six (1985-1986)
Dynasty dropped from #1 to #7 in the ratings in a sixth season which featured a lookalike posing as Krystle, introduced Alexis' sister Caress (Kate O'Mara), and launched the spin-off The Colbys. Spurned by Blake, Alexis finds his estranged brother Ben (Christopher Cazenove) and the two successfully plot to strip Blake of his fortune. Steven's budding relationship with closeted Bart Fallmont (Kevin Conroy) is ruined by Adam's business-motivated public reveal that Bart is gay, and the May 21, 1986 season finale (as #4 in week) finds Blake strangling Alexis while the rest of the cast is in peril at the La Mirage hotel, accidentally set on fire by Claudia.

As the seventh season begins in September 1986, Blake stops short of killing Alexis, Claudia has died in the fire, and Amanda (now played by American Karen Cellini following Oxenberg's sudden departure) is rescued by a returning Michael Culhane. Blake turns the tables on Ben and Alexis and recovers his wealth, but loses his memory after an oil rig explosion. Alexis finds Blake and, with everyone believing he is dead, perpetuates his belief that they are still married. Living with a clean slate, Alexis finds herself softening to Blake, and ultimately tells him the truth as he reunites with Krystle. Krystina receives a heart transplant but is kidnapped; Sammy Jo's marriage to Clay Fallmont (Ted McGinley) crumbles and she falls into bed with Steven; Amanda leaves town, and North and South Terri Garber arrives as Ben's daughter Leslie Carrington. Adam's season-long romance with Blake's secretary Dana Waring (Leann Hunley) culminates in a wedding, which is punctuated in the May 6, 1987 season finale by Alexis' car plunging off a bridge into a river and the violent return of a vengeful Matthew Blaisdel. Dynasty dropped to #24, and completely out of the top-30 in the 1987-1988 eighth season.

With The Colbys cancelled, Jeff and Fallon return for Dynasty eighth season, their marriage now falling apart again. Matthew, returned from the dead but troubled by headaches, holds the Carringtons hostage in hopes that Krystle will run away with him. Steven ends the siege by reluctantly stabbing his old friend to death. Alexis is saved by a handsome and mysterious stranger, Sean Rowan (James Healey); she marries him, not realizing that he is Joseph's son and Kirby's brother, bent on revenge. Steven and Sammy Jo's reconciliation is short-lived as the pursuit of children unravels Adam and Dana's marriage. Sean begins to manipulate and destroy the Carringtons from the inside, with he and Dex fighting to the death in the March 30, 1988 season finale. Blake comes home to find Krystle missing and their bedroom in shambles.

The ninth and final 1988-1989 season brought a move from Wednesday to Thursday, and new Executive Supervising Producer David Paulsen, who took over the plotting of the series. Evans appeared in only a handful of episodes at the start of the season as an ailing Krystle seeks brain surgery in Switzerlandmarker but is left in an offscreen coma. In a money-saving move, Collins was contracted for only 13 out of the season's 22 episodes; former Colbys character Sable (Stephanie Beacham) was brought in as both a platonic confidante for Blake and a nemesis for Alexis, and Tracy Scoggins also reprised her Colbys role as Sable's daughter Monica. A storyline involving a murder and an old secret tying the Carrington, Colby and Dexter families together spans the season as Alexis and Sable spar first over business and then over Dex.

Ratings, however, continued to drop. An already slumping series by this time, Dynasty's ratings problems were further exacerbated by the timeslot switch as now the series was facing off against the strong NBC Thursday night lineup, which had regularly drawn the lion's share of the audience that night (led by The Cosby Show, which had supplanted Dynasty as the #1 show on television in 1986 and had continued to hold that lead). In May 1989, Robert A. Iger, the new entertainment president at ABC for the 1989-1990 season, had taken his first shot at cancelling Dynasty so the last episode of season 9 proved to be the series finale and the show ended with Blake, Alexis, and Dex in mortal peril.

The "catfights"

Over the run of the series, the rivalry between Blake's current and former wives is a primary driver for the melodrama. Alexis resents Krystle's supplanting of her position as mistress of the Carrington household and tries to undermine her at every opportunity, while Krystle makes increasingly bold efforts to keep Alexis from interfering in the lives of their mutual loved ones. The pair have numerous verbal spats accented by slaps across the face, but more than once the altercations get more physical. "Unfortunately, the thing people remember about this show is the catfights," noted Collins in 1991. Krystle and Alexis famously brawl in Alexis' cottage and later in a lily pond, hurl mud at each other at a beauty salon, and slide down a ravine together into a puddle of mud before their final showdown in a fashion studio in the 1991 miniseries Dynasty: The Reunion. In 2008 Entertainment Weekly termed Alexis and Krystle's catfights "the gold standard of scratching and clawing." Later in the series Alexis battles Blake's half-sister Dominique Deveraux (Diahann Carroll) and her own cousin Sable Colby (Stephanie Beacham); Heather Locklear's Sammy Jo has catfights with both Amanda (Catherine Oxenberg) in a swimming pool and Fallon (Emma Samms) in a horse trough and the mud around it. Evans even battles with herself at the climax of a 1985-1986 storyline in which Krystle is imprisoned and replaced by a lookalike, also played by Evans.

Spin-offs and television events

A spin-off, The Colbys, debuted in 1985 as Fallon "returned from the dead" and ex-husband Jeff followed her to Los Angelesmarker, where they became embroiled in the family intrigues of Jeff's wealthy Californiamarker relatives. Pamela Sue Martin had been asked to reprise the role of Fallon, but declined; the unpopular show lasted for just two seasons, ending in 1987, and both Fallon and Jeff returned to Dynasty.

A miniseries, Dynasty: The Reunion, aired in October 1991. Billed as a wrap-up for the dangling plotlines left by the series' abrupt cancellation 2½ years earlier, The Reunion resolved some storylines but ignored others.

The cable channel SOAPnet aired repeats of all nine seasons. In January 2004, creator Esther Shapiro participated in a marathon of the show's episodes, called "Serial Bowl: Alexis vs. Krystle", giving behind-the-scenes tidbits and factoids.
On January 2, 2005, ABC aired a fictionalized television movie called Dynasty: The Making of a Guilty Pleasure chronicling the creation and backstage details of Dynasty. It received mixed reviews both for content and for historical accuracy, and was criticized by Forsythe, Evans, and Collins in separate press releases. Filmed in Australia, the movie starred Bartholomew John as Forsythe, Melora Hardin as Evans, and Alice Krige as Collins. The film begins with a disclaimer noting the inclusion of "time compression and composite and fictionalized characters and incidents," and takes dramatic license with both the historical timeline and events, as well as the fictional storylines originally presented on Dynasty.

On May 2, 2006, Dynasty Reunion: Catfights & Caviar aired on CBS. It assembled for the first time all the original actors who played the Carrington children (Pamela Sue Martin, Al Corley, Gordon Thomson, and Catherine Oxenberg), who reminisced about making the show with other former cast members, including John Forsythe, Joan Collins and Linda Evans. The special was filmed at the Filolimarker mansion. It was the first time Martin and Oxenberg, as well as Corley and Thomson, shared screen time.

Behind the scenes

The Filolimarker estate in Woodsidemarker, Californiamarker was used as the 48 room Carrington mansion in the opening credits, establishing shots and some outdoor scenes (in the pilot only). Filoli interiors can be seen in Warren Beatty's 1978 film Heaven Can Wait. Some of the other exterior shots of the Carrington mansion (including the lily pond catfight) were shot at a 17 room Palladian house called Arden Villa, which has also been used in other films, television series, and music videos.

John Forsythe was the only cast member to appear in all 220 episodes of the series. Linda Evans appeared in 204 of the 220 episodes, leaving the series after appearing in only six episodes of the ninth and final season. As she missed all the first season, 1 episode in season 6 and 9 episodes in season 9, Joan Collins was subsequently present in 195 episodes. Forsythe and John James were the only two original cast members to appear in the final episode.

Commercial tie-ins

The creations of series costume designer Nolan Miller became so popular that Dynasty spawned its own line of women's apparel called "The Dynasty Collection" — a series of haute couture designs based on costumes worn by Joan Collins, Linda Evans and Diahann Carroll. Christopher Schemering's The Soap Opera Encyclopedia notes that later, "capitalizing on that success, the show put out a men's fashion line, Dynasty sheets and towels, 'Forever Krystle' perfume, dolls, and — in keeping with the nothing-is-sacred spirit of the show — even wall-to-wall carpeting and panty hose."

In addition, the Crystal Light beverage hired Linda Evans as a spokesperson due to her character's name (Krystle) on Dynasty.

Two fictional novels were published, based on scripts from early episodes — Dynasty (1983) and Alexis Returns (1984) — written by Eileen Lottman. In 1984, Doubleday/Dolphin published the companion book Dynasty: The Authorized Biography of the Carringtons, which included an introduction by Esther Shapiro. The Authorized Biography featured storyline synopses in the form of extended biographies of the main characters, descriptions of primary locations (like the Carrington Estate and La Mirage) and dozens of photos from the series.

Glamour, Greed & Glory: Dynasty by Judith A. Moose was released in 2005 and included facts, stories, episode guides and photos. Author Moose later claimed that through research at Spelling Entertainment, she discovered the middle names (unused on air) of some key characters: Alexis Marissa, Amanda Kimberly, Blake Alexander, Claudia Mary and Fallon Marissa.

U.S. ratings

Dynasty was a top-30 hit for its second through seventh seasons, reaching #1 for the 1984-1985 season.

  • Season 2 (1981-1982): #19
  • Season 3 (1982-1983): #5
  • Season 4 (1983-1984): #3
  • Season 5 (1984-1985): #1
  • Season 6 (1985-1986): #7
  • Season 7 (1986-1987): #24

DVD releases

The first season of Dynasty was released on Region 1 DVD on April 19, 2005 by 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. The rights to subsequent seasons (and Season 1 rights for other regions) reverted to CBS Home Entertainment (distributed by Paramount Home Entertainment) in November 2006.

Season Ep # Region 1 Region 2 Region 2 (Sweden) Region 4 (Australia) Additional Content
Season 1 15 April 19, 2005 March 9, 2009 April 9, 2008 April 9, 2008 All 15 episodes of the first season, interviews with original cast members Pamela Sue Martin and Al Corley, two commentary tracks by creator Esther Shapiro and Corley, Family, Furs and Fun: Creating DYNASTY series overview featurette.
Season 2 22 August 14, 2007 March 9, 2009 October 22, 2008 October 1, 2008

All 22 episodes of the second season, Interactive Season 2 Family Tree (Blake, Alexis, Krystle, Fallon, Jeff, Steven, Sammy Jo and Little Blake profiles).
Season 3, Volume 1 12 June 17, 2008 N/A N/A N/A US/Region 1: First 12 episodes of Season 3
Season 3, Volume 2 12 October 21, 2008 N/A N/A N/A US/Region 1: Second 12 episodes of Season 3
Season 3, Complete Season 24 N/A May 18, 2009 April 29, 2009 April 2, 2009 All 24 episodes of Season 3 released in a single volume
Season 4, Volume 1 14 April 7, 2009 N/A N/A N/A US/Region 1: First 14 episodes of Season 4
Season 4, Volume 2 13 February 2, 2010 N/A N/A N/A US/Region 1: Second 13 episodes of Season 4
Season 4, Complete Season 27 N/A March 8, 2010 November 25, 2009 December 24, 2009 All 27 episodes of Season 4 released in a single volume
Season 5, Complete Season 29 N/A TBA TBA TBA
Season 6, Complete Season 31 N/A TBA TBA TBA
Season 7, Complete Season 28 N/A TBA TBA TBA
Season 8, Complete Season 22 N/A TBA TBA TBA
Season 9, Complete Season 22 N/A TBA TBA TBA

See also

References and notes

  1. 1981-1982 Ratings -
  2. 1984-1985 Ratings -
  3. 1985-1986 Ratings -
  5. Season 2 episode "The Baby" (March 3, 1982)
  6. Season 3 episode "The Threat" (April 13, 1983)
  7. Season 6 episode "Ben" (February 26, 1986)
  8. Season 7 episode "Fear" (December 31, 1986)
  9. Season 9 series finale "Catch 22" (May 11, 1989)
  10. Season 6 finale "The Choice" (May 21, 1986)
  11. Season 9 episode "Alexis in Blunderland" (December 15, 1988)
  12. Season 6 episode "The Vigil" (January 22, 1986)
  14. Lottman, Eileen. Dynasty, 1983, Bantam Books, ISBN 0-553-17084-8.
  15. Lottman, E. Alexis Returns, 1984, Bantam Books, ISBN 0-553-24431-0.
  16. Dynasty Middle names -
  17. 1982-1983 Ratings -
  18. 1983-1984 Ratings -
  19. Dynasty: The Complete First Season (Region 1).
  20. Region 2 release dates relate to the United Kingdom market only.
  21. The first three episodes of Dynasty were first broadcast in the US as a single, three-hour special, but in syndication these episodes are presented individually. The DVD contains the full 15 segments of Season One, each with main titles and end credits, but the packaging advertises "13 episodes," noting that the series premiere is three parts.
  22. Dynasty: The First Season (Region 2).
  23. Dynasty: The First Season (Region 4).
  24. Dynasty Season 1 Region 1 DVD packaging (2005)
  25. Dynasty: The Second Season (Region 1).
  26. Dynasty: The Second Season (Region 2).
  27. Dynasty: The Second Season (Region 4).
  28. Dynasty Season 2 Region 1 DVD packaging (2007)
  29. Dynasty - Studio Confirms Christmastime Scoop for 3rd Season DVDs" -
  30. Dynasty: The Third Season - Volume 1 (Region 1).
  31. Dynasty - Season 3, Vol. 2 Announced!" -
  32. Dynasty: The Third Season - Volume 2 (Region 1).
  33. Dynasty: The Third Season - Complete (Region 2).
  34. Dynasty: The Third Season (Region 4).
  35. Dynasty - Season 4, Volume 1 DVD Set's Release Date Announced." -
  36. Dynasty: The Fourth Season - Volume 1 (Region 1).
  37. Dynasty - Season 4, Volume 2 DVD Set's Release Date Announced." -]

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