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What if David Paulsen had taken over DYNASTY in 1985?

Discussion in 'Dynasty' started by Snarky's Ghost, Aug 11, 2017 at 5:20 PM.

  1. Snarky's Ghost

    Snarky's Ghost Soap Chat TV Fanatic 15 Years on Soap Chat 10 Years on Soap Chat 5 Years on Soap Chat

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    As we know, David Paulsen was brought in to take over DYNASTY in 1988 when the show was basically dead-in-the-water and one suspected (as I did) that they were bringing in a new producer to take the blame for the series' imminent cancellation. The show was moved to the same dead-end timeslot which had killed the spin-off series, THE COLBYS, and was now seemingly intended to kill the parent series which had been sliding badly even in its cushy Wednesday night spot for several years... Paulsen came in as show-runner for Season 9, and even though too few people saw it, it was arguably the best year since Season 2 in terms of tone, characterizations and narrative.

    But wily Esther Shapiro had actually gone after Paulsen three years earlier (even though she would later claim that "the show was taken away from us" in Season 9, supporting my suspicion that they wanted a public fall guy once the axe finally dropped). Paulsen had been largely responsible for the best post-'WhoShotJR?' seasons of DALLAS (to his credit, Leonard Katzman, the DALLAS show-runner, seemed to recognize Paulsen's talent) and had an excellent sense of seasonal structure.

    When Patrick Duffy left DALLAS and Bobby "died" in 1985, Katzman also left DALLAS and the brass at Lorimar refused to give Paulsen the position vacated by Katzman. (A huge mistake).

    Now a free agent, Paulsen would only agree to taking over DYNASTY in 1985, at the height of that series and its Moldavian Massacre cliffhanger, if he could be given total creative control... It was a reasonable demand, given that Paulsen probably wanted to avoid what Camille Marchetta had just faced as a mere writer-producer in Season 5 as she saw her attempts at any narrative logic sabotaged by the Pollocks, DYNASTY's show-runners (and the pals of the Shapiros) who seemed to feel sudden character and plot shifts were the key to keeping the program exciting -- even if those shifts often felt silly and didn't make much sense.

    Just as reasonably, the Shapiros and Aaron Spelling seemed to feel that since DYNASTY was still #1 in 1985, they couldn't or shouldn't trust an outsider with total carte blanche control over their series... But should they have anyway?

    Instead, Paulsen went over to KNOTS LANDING, created and produced by his childhood chum David Jacobs, who gave him Supervising Producer status (as that position was being vacated by Peter Dunne, who was headed to DALLAS to take the show-runner role Paulsen had been denied). Meanwhile, the Pollocks continued running DYNASTY in its post-massacre era, with writers like Diana Gould brought in, and sothe show began its long, painful slide for the next three years.

    Paulsen wasn't happy on KNOTS LANDING, as there was a political situation there (other writers who resented his outsider presence and/or his "male chauvinistic" DALLAS acumen) while Peter Dunne, now running DALLAS, tried to give that show a quasi-feministic make-over, blending DYNASTY's glamour with KNOTS' sense of intimacy, but it didn't work at all.

    Paulsen and Dunne left their respective positions within a year. Paulsen went back to DALLAS (along with Katzman and Duffy) in 1986 and Dunne was fired... Both shows' creative tone for that years is a source of debate -- Paulsen's year in KNOTS indeed seemed a little "off" but Dunne's year on DALLAS became a muddled, sudsy disaster (although it started out with promise, as if it might be a rawer, edgier, more experimental DALLAS).

    And, to be fair, the 1985-86 season was a drab, beige, cluttered year for all four of the '80s wealth-based nighttime soaps. KNOTS probably worked best amongst all of them, but it was usually the strongest on character anyway.

    While I'm really glad Paulsen went back to DALLAS for two more years (from 1986 thru 1988) and I'd hate to have missed Season 10 (per DVD count, and Victoria Principals' final year) as it was one of that series' greatest periods, what would DYNASTY have been like had Paulsen come in to Season 6 or DYNASTY with the total creative control he'd requested?

    Paulsen apparently wanted to leave DALLAS by 1988 (perhaps because Arthur Bernard Lewis had returned in 1987, a writer with seniority over Paulsen, or perhaps because DALLAS had decided to go "lighter" -- Larry Hagman even said in the press that Paulsen "didn't have a sense of humor" when he left, suggesting that Paulsen may have realized the destructively facetious direction in which DALLAS was now headed for its closing years).

    And because DYNASTY had been collapsing in a rather high profile way, Shapiro and Spelling were now willing to give Paulsen the total creative control necessary to sign him up in 1988. So he became the show-runner for Season 9, later said Spelling "was as good as his word" about permitting Paulsen that total control, the TVGUIDE in 1989 credited DYNASTY with have the Best Soap Plotline (for the Roger Grimes mystery) for the year, and Paulsen remained good friends with the Shapiros presumably to the present.

    But what if Spelling and the Shapiros had understood what some of us already did about DYNASTY in 1985 (David Jacobs observed in the press in early '85 that DYNASTY needed "to concentrate more on story" if it was going to survive) and went ahead and gave full control of DYNASTY over to Paulsen from Season 6 onward?

    [​IMG]

    At the very least, when FALCON CREST's show runner for its first three seasons, Robert McCullough (and the man who essentially made that show a hit) was fired over studio politics in 1984 when FC as at its ratings peak, and Aaron Spelling immediately made him a producer of his HOLLYWOOD WIVES mini-series, why not then bring him over to keep DYNASTY afloat?

    I think Paulsen's better, but McCullough was pretty darned good, too.

    [​IMG]
     
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  2. AndyLaird

    AndyLaird Soap Chat Member

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    David Paulsen's plot for season 9 was very good, but he did change the tone of the show - it became almost self-mocking at times. Which is ironic given that there was (as critics of seasons 6-8 would have it) less to mock in season 9... See for example the lame puns in the episode titles.

    Even season 9 was not perfect - eg the Virginia story that never really paid off, or Sammy Jo and Tanner having their own story that had nothing to do with the rest of the show.

    On balance I'm glad they gave the show to Paulsen but rather than bringing in an entirely new team, I would have preferred him to be working in collaboration with the people who had made seasons 1 and 2 what they were, i.e. the Shapiros and Pollocks. They got the tone of the show, he had fresh and coherent narrative ideas.

    Is Camille Marchetta on record as having found it hard to work with them? I did enjoy her season very much (but then I am one of the few people who liked Moldavia...)
     
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  3. Alexis

    Alexis Soap Chat Enthusiast

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    Really? They were the best episode titles in the shows run! I mean every bloody episode for like 8 seasons was either "The Wedding" or "The Vigil" or "The Wet Fart" X 100.
    I think Paulsen took a risk in bringing in Virginia. I could see what he was trying to do there, to bring in an outsider coming into this messed up world. Unfortunately it just wasn't the right character or actress and even he must have known this as she exits stage left.
     
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2017 at 10:17 PM
  4. Snarky's Ghost

    Snarky's Ghost Soap Chat TV Fanatic 15 Years on Soap Chat 10 Years on Soap Chat 5 Years on Soap Chat

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    Hmmm. So much to address here...

    I don't think the Pollocks got the tone of the show at all. Esther did, but she was distracted with the business side of things after the show got going. The Pollocks weren't there for Season 1. They were for Season 2, but the good work then was either from hunger or Ed Ledding (the line producer and the only S2 staff member not there for Season 3, and the drop in quality is immediate and pronounced) helped maintain some sense of cohesion... I just don't know... But the slide in the narrative and the flavor of the show continued from S3 thru S8 --- I mean, they'd lost it long ago... Why would Paulsen keep them on if he didn't have to?

    Also as @Alexis pointed out, how is repeating genuinely lame titles like "The Gown" (some titles were literally used three times, so discombobulated the production was under the Pollocks) superior to Paulsen's titles from Season 9??

    And most of us agree that S9 had flaws: Virginia (I thought she was okay when she wasn't upset, and then all her dialogue sounded looped); they never explained as to why the D.A. had told Alexis when she returned for Blake's murder trial that Roger had just died in prison when he'd really been at the bottom of that lake for nearly two decades, et al... But (and I'm not directing this to you) I always wonder about some of those fans (less verbal than they once were) who seemed to hold DYNASTY to absolutely no standard at all, until someone finally came in to legitimately fix it.

    Yes, Camille Marchetta (who reportedly came up with 'Who Shot JR?' on DALLAS five years before she came up with the Moldavian massacre) did an interview with Ultimate Dallas where she describes what it was like working on DYNASTY, and it's clear who she's talking about.

    And David Paulsen also did an interview with James for Ultimate Dallas where he mentioned he'd told the Shapiros when he signed on that he had no idea what the Pollocks were doing with the narrative (I think Paulsen later requested that their names be stricken from the record) and the Shapiros agreed saying, "neither do we."
     
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2017 at 10:47 PM
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  5. AndyLaird

    AndyLaird Soap Chat Member

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    All fair points though I suspect we are never going to entirely agree! :)

    I'll accept I hold Dynasty to a lower standard than you and many others do (I wouldn't say I hold it to no standard :) ). US television, in the 1980s even more than now, was a commercial enterprise more than an artistic one, so I think we have to celebrate the times when it did achieve artistic success, which I think it did more than it's given credit for, and for the rest, make some allowances for the world the writers and producers had to work in.
     
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  6. Snarky's Ghost

    Snarky's Ghost Soap Chat TV Fanatic 15 Years on Soap Chat 10 Years on Soap Chat 5 Years on Soap Chat

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    So why was DYNASTY the worst of the lot, as indeed it was? It can't all be chalked up to the artless media of its era.
     
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  7. Soaplover

    Soaplover Soap Chat Member

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    If anything, he probably would have written Claudia out with a better exit. I still am surprised that she died at her own hands when previous episodes made it seem she had smartened up even calling out Krystale for being passive...and looked as if she would have left Denver for. a new life.
     
  8. StrangerDynastyTreeNat89

    StrangerDynastyTreeNat89 Soap Chat Well-Known Member

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    Timing wise, season 6 would've been the best year for Paulsen to come on board, with cast and characters around that year, added to the Roger Grimes/art collection storyline Brough forward by three years it would've easily been an excellent year for DYNASTY.

    Caress could easily replace Sable in the storyline and Ben could still team up with Alexis against Blake, Amanda was basically Virginia's predecessor (I think Paulsen was.going for an Amanda type when he created Virginia by claiming she was a "Grace Kelly" type, but got the casting mixed up)

    Paulsen would've saved the series and it would've gone a completely different course in its remaining years, yes there were many inconsistencies but certainly no worse than what the viewers had to put up with for the best part of the preceding six years.
     
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  9. Snarky's Ghost

    Snarky's Ghost Soap Chat TV Fanatic 15 Years on Soap Chat 10 Years on Soap Chat 5 Years on Soap Chat

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    I'd be quite happy for the show to do most of the stories it did in Season 6 thru 8, even on Paulsen's watch. And I'd wait for the Roger Grimes plot until Season 9.

    I just want those stories done better. Like, way better.

    God and The Devil are in the details.
     
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  10. Ked

    Ked Soap Chat Addict

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    Is David Paulsen still alive? I can't remember - and am too lazy to go look it up myself. :lol: The reason I ask is I wonder if you've ever tried contacting him and asking him such questions. X)
     
  11. Snarky's Ghost

    Snarky's Ghost Soap Chat TV Fanatic 15 Years on Soap Chat 10 Years on Soap Chat 5 Years on Soap Chat

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    He's still alive. Age 71. Same as Victoria, only he doesn't lie about it.

    Art Swift interviewed Paulsen in 2004. James interviewed Paulsen in, I think, 2008. And Garry von Roy interviewed Paulsen a couple of years ago for Dallas Fanzine.

    But there comes a time you just have to stop answering the phone.
     
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