Another look at Season three

Discussion in 'Dynasty' started by Michael Torrance, May 8, 2018.

  1. Snarky's Ghost

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    Well, they're here -- S3, S4 and S5.

    The first disc from S4, the one which contains the unusually polished and confident "The Arrest," was not only dislodged in shipping, but one of those sticky little magnetic things was stuck to it as well. So, y'know, I'm sure it will all be fine...

    I'd like to start binging this evening, but my …. lifestyle … has just been getting even more complicated of late. So who knows when I'll be able to really delve into it.
     
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2018
  2. Snarky's Ghost

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    Surprisingly, I've managed to get in the first nine episodes from Season 3 over the last two evenings (I certainly didn't expect to, due to personal stuff). I've seen these installments several times over the years in reruns of course, but not looking this good, unedited (more or less) or in a binging context.

    In some ways the contrast between S2 and S3, though pronounced, seems less obvious to me now, undoubtedly because I've adjusted to it to a degree. There is still a level of relative competence in the production of Season 3, but the slight nervousness that began that third year infects any number of scenes, the result of the new static acting directive and also the general lack of any central forward story thrust (in comparison to the previous season). I mean, there are lots of little story arcs, naturally, the introduction of Adam being the most important, yet there is this dithery sense of things not quite holding together.

    Even S.A.D. feels a little less distracting to me now.

    Strangely enough -- and I don't remember thinking this before, or at least not that much -- that the whole Denver-Carrington Shale Oil Extraction Process plotline could and perhaps should have been made a little more prominent (in terms of details) than it really was. Not necessarily to the degree that DALLAS would have done it, but just how did Neil McVane win over Congress into taking Blake more seriously before Alexis party-fu**ed him into changing his mind … before Blake threatened him with teen-pube gossip to get him to change it back? (BTW: the script for the La Mirage grand opening was written by Stern & Black who would soon head over to FALCON CREST where they would be fired along with Bob McCullough in 1984, ruining that show forever).

    And then there's Linda's acting which is still largely okay, still a serenely vulnerable presence which offsets, and maybe even contains, the swirling drama around her. Jesus, casting is so important. She's not quite on automatic devastation default yet, but I seem to recall that increasing by the end of the season.

    As kinetic as Joan As Alexis always is, the show really does follow Linda's performance.

    The La Mirage lobby is still inexcusable. And I've not yet reached Blake's and Krystle's "not 90 days!" exchange in the new conservatory set. Both of which I see as metaphoric for this season... And there are all these smallish yet all wrong little details that keep cropping up, like a fabulously-gowned Krystle chaise-lounging in her boudoir, casually flipping through her copy of Vanity Fair and not even looking up when a servant comes rapping at her door despite the fact that her grandson-by-marriage has been kidnapped.

    And why is Jeff so blasé about Adam's horrendous act of painting over the top-of-the-line paneling in Cecil's office?? The change is horrible!

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2018
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  3. Willie Oleson

    Willie Oleson drilling for soap

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    Ah yes...Dynasty's version of corporate intrigue and High Finance. *shudders*
     
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  4. Snarky's Ghost

    Snarky's Ghost Soap Chat Oracle

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    One can see they're still attempting a quality production for Season 3, and a lot of the pretensions and affectations were also already there in Season 2, in point of fact. But Season 2 was a totally self-confident year, so those pretensions and affectations worked. Season 3, though, is terribly insecure for whatever reason, so those pretensions and affectation wind up feeling a bit desperate and posing.

    But it's no longer hitting me as strongly as it once did. Even the presentation of the working class as (as JfL once put it) a series of grotesques is less apparent to me now, when it used to jump out at me.

    That said, my original take on Season 3 (which went unchanged with subsequent re-watchings over the years) was probably the right one. But now the similarities between S2 and S3 are more obvious to me, how the level of quality didn't crash so much as the cocksure tone of the former was now gone (S.A.D. had to have something to do with that) and so the flaws of Season 3 are made evident by its lack of chutzpah comparatively.

    Which is also why Ben Lazerone's heady music score, oft-repeated during late-S2, basically came off, effectively communicating the Carringtons' heightened existence, yet those same Lazerone cues become strained when re-used in the first half of Season 3; it's now like the program is earnestly trying to sell you something you'd already willingly purchased just a year before, so now you wonder what they're hiding.

    The producers still seem to know what DYNASTY ought to be in Season 3, only they're now less convinced of their own shtick.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2018
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  5. Snarky's Ghost

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    Well, I ripped thru Season 3 in about five days (which I hadn't anticipated I'd do) and am now well into Season 4.

    Again, I've seen these episodes numerous times since they first aired 35 years ago, but never looking this good and never in a marathon.

    Some folks may howl at me when I now assert that: they're not all that bad! :lol: , given how I've bitched all these years about the S3 and beyond era of the series... The lows don't seem so low, and even the highs don't see so high. So now there's a leveling of the field such that the wild moment-to-moment fluctuations in quality and focus I once fussed on about are just less obvious to me.

    Of course, I've also had a third of a century to adjust and become additionally jaded.

    Season 3 and Season 4 are still making a mostly-sincere effort to tell a valid character drama, and even the scene construction doesn't seem so clunky and incompetent as it once did, the pretensions not all that unacceptably godawful, even S.A.D. not so extreme. Although it all still feels a bit rudderless.

    And Linda's acting (as I stated above somewhere) is still perfectly acceptable given the material she's given at this point.

    Clearly, we're not in S7 or S8 territory yet.

    One thing I've noticed is how that meandering Ben Lazarone score, first used in late-Season 2 (when it worked, because the show was so focused and ballsy) is not only oft-repeated in Season 3, it even keeps popping up in Season 4! And it's destructive. Very destructive. Yet somebody behind the camera decided that they wanted to continue using it, dragging it forward, with deleterious frequency. The composition was kitschy fun in Season 2, but it nearly ruins the episodes in which it's used for S3 and S4, and, worse, has a perniciously corrosive effect even on surrounding episodes not scored by Lazarone in that it sucks focus out of the program's overarching vibe and narrative in a different-yet-similar way as John Parker's deranged, jazzy music scattered the latter years of DALLAS even when he wasn't scoring every single installment.

    I now realize that this is where all Jeff's headaches came from.

    The musical entries and character melodies from Peter Myers are effective, Artie Kane's are kind of arty and compelling, and even Marvin Laird's über-lush compositions I'd previously found "a bit much" are beautiful and fitting for a show like DYNASTY. But the necrophiliacal allegiance to that old Lazarone score is inexplicable, disorienting, and a big mistake.

    [​IMG]

    And the utter illogic that Jeff's illness and hospitalization couldn't legally negate his signing over his voting rights to Alexis, and then the family's later instant acceptance of Adam's transparent deflecting of blame for Jeff's poisoning onto Alexis, is righteous foolishness and simply makes no sense.
     
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2018
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  6. Ked

    Ked Soap Chat Dream Maker

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    Old age has mellowed you. ;)
     
  7. Snarky's Ghost

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    It is interesting how product from a bygone era tends to be judged differently. The good stuff doesn't always seem so good (unless its' really superlative) while the bad stuff becomes just a relic of another time (so you don't expect anything more from it).

    So its period elements wind up over-riding, and homogenizing, what it all feels like later.

    [​IMG]
     
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  8. Snarky's Ghost

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    I'm most of the way through Season 4 and, sure enough, the show is more all-over-the-place than S3, with a narrative that isn't sure what it wants to do and where it wants to go; there are lots of scenes with gushingly queasy romantic repartee seemingly intended to kill time, and nervously gauche displays of high-end accoutrement, circumstances and stuff to impress the bourgeois viewer.

    Also, I hadn't realized that Elsworth Chisholm was the guy who talked Alexis into her Dietrichian performance at that cowboy bar!

    And who knew I'd been misspelling Ben Lanzarone all these years, the man who gave the most ramblingly bizarre score which helped kept DYNASTY dizzyingly disoriented through at least Season 4?

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2018
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  9. Snarky's Ghost

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    Funny, now I've come down with a minor case of buyer's remorse. :eyes:
     
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  10. Ked

    Ked Soap Chat Dream Maker

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    Well, let the buyer beware. ;)
     
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  11. Snarky's Ghost

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    Really. I've been slightly kinder to Season 3 this time around, but S4 and S5? It's so frustrating! They simply have no idea what story they want to tell, and it's hitting me with renewed rawness.
    :2B:
     
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  12. tommie

    tommie Soap Chat Dream Maker

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    Season four has always been one of the worst seasons for me, mostly because the cast is in tact and it's just sort of a rambling mess of a show, like the crazy homeless person that always ends up talking to me on the bus. And even they're more coherent!
     
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  13. Snarky's Ghost

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    OMG --- the episode in which Amanda reveals herself to the family, and Lanzarone's score is back!
    Oh, I know. Season 5 is silly fun, but at least it's easier to watch than Season 4.
     
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  14. tommie

    tommie Soap Chat Dream Maker

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    THANK YOU!

    I thought I was going crazy, but I HATE season four because there's SO MUCH things you can do, yet it's strangely bland - which is a crime for any prime time soap! How very dare you mess up our final season of Fallon this way?!? At least season five had faux Diana storyline....
     
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  15. Willie Oleson

    Willie Oleson drilling for soap

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    I agree, the difference between the seasons 3 and 4 is the most jarring.
    It still looks like great Dynasty, so you feel that you have to love it. But it's becoming painfully indecisive, there's too many cop-outs and blatant "no thank-you's" and it totally kills the story.
    What's so great about season 4? That the re-introduction of Steven Carrington wasn't as awful as it could have been? Until that storyline was over and NuSteven/Jack Coleman was left to his own devices, as it were?
    I...I...don't even remember how Kirby was written out of the story.

    Just say NO to Tracey Kendall
    Just say NO to Peter De Vilbis and his wicked, dirty drugs
    Just say NO to Chris Deegan and his perfect Dynasty eyes.

    [​IMG]
    All that good stuff was right there in front of their very noses, all they had to do was to pick it up and use it. Season 4 screams "Use me!"

    I think that's when DYNASTY embraced its "guilty pleasure" status, and apparently it's how most people remember it.
    Season 5 wants to be very Judith Krantz-y but at least it wants to be something. The ending is suprisingly effective - too effective for a soap, unfortunately.

    [​IMG]
    You've jumped the shark, Carrington!
     
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  16. Snarky's Ghost

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    Although Linda's crossed-eyed "I don't believe my own lines anymore" default acting is really kicking into gear in Season 5.

    But Season 4 should have been a defining year for DYNASTY. You can just feel it. And yet it never happens.... with so many "who is doing that?" mysteries which are mostly never resolved.
     
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  17. Michael Torrance

    Michael Torrance Soap Chat Well-Known Member

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    DYNASTY is still DYNASTY in S3. By the time Tracy and Peter De Vilbis appears, the show has forgotten what kind of stories it was supposed to tell.

    Exactly. And as @tommie said, what a terrible way to use PSM in her last year. S4 is the year where the team can't see the possibilities that are obvious before them--like Kirby and Fallon being at odds because Kirby thinks she hates her for her previous marriage to Jeff and Fallon wanting to keep her away from what she thinks is a dangerous man. And in a single stroke the show takes two of its most authentic creations, Steven and Claudia, and has them play the 50s Ozzie and Harriett couple. Even Dex, who is a great addition, was not properly utilized given his unique position of being on the DC board and in love with Alexis. He and Blake should have had more interactions, and some more hostility from Blake could have made Krystle realize he still cared for Alexis (the resolution of the merger storyline and Blake realizing Alexis sacrificed for her son could have mellowed him considerably). But by 'Carousel' the show was decided it is what the zeitgeist calls it, an hour of mindless glitz and clothes parade and no story at all.

    S5 is an improvement thanks to the Alexis trial, the Amanda narrative and the great Amanda/Dex/Alexis love triangle, but it is also a season where the show's main characters lose screen time to Lady Ashley and Daniel Reece and Nicole Simpson. It is also an improvement on what (S4) has been the worst season to date, so in the kingdom of the blind...
    And the way Dominique was not used was criminal.
     
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  18. Snarky's Ghost

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    Somehow, the La Mirage lobby defines the problems of Season 3. It's still DYNASTY S3, sure, and the problems don't hit me in the nose like they once did, but a shabby neurosis is slipping in thru that solarium with too few windows -- and that drab beige lobby with no windows at all.

    If only the style and tone from that first episode of S4 had defined the year.
    There was a glossy silliness to Season 5 I found almost acceptable, from the cinematography to the production design, if only Rock weren't dying, Billy Dee got the salary he'd requested, and Ali MacGraw weren't such a shmuck.

    But, as I stated a few posts back, the static acting directive from S3 onward prevented the actors from selling the imperfect scripts, leaving that vague sense of group lobotomization that Dr Toscanni apparently performed on the family just before driving out of Denver, causing nearly every scene to feel not-quite-right somehow.
     

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