Dallas vs Dynasty

Discussion in 'Dallas - The Original Series' started by Kristin Kringle Channing, Dec 4, 2018.

  1. Kristin Kringle Channing

    Kristin Kringle Channing Soap Chat Dream Maker

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    I'm sure this has been discussed many times on the board over the years but I'm always curious about people's preferences when it comes to Dallas and Dynasty, why they like one more than the other, or as in my case, why they love both for different reasons. And I do love both for different reasons, but I often find it hard to put my finger on what those reasons are. What does one have that the other doesn't? What boxes does one tick that the other can't? What was it that was so addictive about each one? Each one certainly had fantastic characters and an excellent cast. I guess if I was to try to put it in a nutshell, even though this doesn't come close to really explaining it, Dallas plumbed emotional depths that Dynasty could never quite match, whereas Dynasty soared to heights of fabulosity that could never quite be matched by Dallas. I guess it depends what you're looking for and if you felt it was being delivered. Each one had a tantalizing premise and characters you couldn't help be invested in, but they didn't always do either of these components justice as time went on.

    So, I guess I'm starting this discussion to hear people's thoughts on either why you like one more than the other, what you like about both and how that's different, or why you've only ever watched one and not the other?

    I'm including an article from The New York Times last year in which two of it's journalists discuss their preferences for each soap to get the ball rolling.


    https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/12/arts/television/dynasty-dallas-reboot.html (the link itself also includes photos and videos)


    ‘Dynasty’ or ‘Dallas’? Squaring Off in the Lily Pond

    [​IMG]


    Along with “Cheers” and “The Cosby Show,” American television in the 1980s was dominated by two prime-time soaps: “Dallas” and “Dynasty.” For years they vied to beat each other in the ratings; more recently each has gotten the reboot treatment. But which show was the best? Who was the villain you loved more, J. R. or Alexis? Which had better cliffhangers, clothing, guest stars, even social relevance?

    The two of us — one from the Styles section of The New York Times, one from Culture — decided to put on our marabou stoles and cowboy boots and duke it out.

    ALEXANDRA JACOBS It’s a truth universally acknowledged that “Dallas” was a better-written show than “Dynasty,” but I would argue that “Dynasty” was a more captivating one — at least starting with Season 2, which is when I first tuned in clandestinely from my parents’ bedroom in New York. Even on their tiny black-and-white Panasonic with its broken antenna, I could tell this was going to be something colorful.


    That initial black-and-whiteness probably crystallized a central tenet of the show’s appeal: that its sumptuous interiors and arch repartee recalled old movies I’d loved, like “Holiday” with Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn. How could the twangy, homespun “Dallas” possibly compare?

    PATRICK HEALY You were secretly watching in New York; I was hiding out in our den in suburban Boston, because I wasn’t sure what my parents would think of me loving a soap opera.

    “Dallas” was more “Peyton Place” than “Holiday,” and the clothes weren’t as fine, but it did have an ingeniously original, amoral central character in J. R. Ewing (a shrewd performance by Larry Hagman) and a delicious mix of earnestness (Bobby and Pam Ewing) and bitchiness (Sue Ellen Ewing and Lucy Ewing).

    “Dallas” was twangy, but it also had broad appeal: It was a show about winning, and about people who wanted to be winners, and America needed that zest after the downbeat ’70s. As much as I enjoyed “Dynasty,” I never felt inspired to root for power-couple Blake and Krystle Carrington (John Forsythe and Linda Evans). I mean, did you really give a fig about Fallon?!


    JACOBS A fig stuffed with goat cheese and wrapped in prosciutto! As played by Pamela Sue Martin (familiar to me from a terrifying afternoon watching “The Poseidon Adventure”), Fallon was my favorite character on the show: intelligent, free-spirited and sexually liberated.

    Yes, she was a spoiled brat with an Elektra complex, but also a feminist who wasn’t about to let any man tell her how to live her life, a working mother who single-handedly turns around Blake’s hotel, La Mirage. The chemistry between her and the staid, dependable Jeff Colby (John James) was intoxicating to my preadolescent self.

    HEALY Fallon the working mother … hmmm … there are working mothers and then there are Carrington working mothers. And I’m not sure “feminist” is the first word I’d use for someone who was so demeaning and spiteful (at least at first) to other women.

    For me, Fallon represented a central flaw of “Dynasty.” The show was a portrait of wealth, glamour, conspicuous consumption and narcissism — nothing more, really. Everyone wanted Blake’s love and money, and to a lesser extent Cecil Colby’s. The sexual politics became increasingly problematic, too: While the men schemed and sabotaged, the women fought over men in lily ponds and apartments.

    “Dallas” felt richer for its focus on family and betrayal. (It was not above a pool fight, but those usually involved men.)

    Both shows did have great villains. How would you rate J. R. and Joan Collins’s Alexis?

    JACOBS No contest. J. R. felt irritatingly underplayed, with a rushed mumbling delivery. His predilection for the insults “slut,” “loser,” “drunk” and “saddle tramp” got old fast.

    HEALY Alexis called Krystle “you bitch!” a fair amount too. Those lines were juvenile, but I was juvenile, and they made me laugh.

    JACOBS And she managed to make “whore” a two-syllable word! Alexis was over the top but she was both always herself and constantly changing — and not just outfits. She rolled with whatever crazy story line the writers came up with (quite literally, in the case of the infamous mud-wrestling scene). And she always committed 100 percent, whether it was to singing a rendition of Frank Loesser’s “The Boys in the Back Room” à la Marlene Dietrich or falling off a balconywith Dex in the last season’s final episode.

    Which brings us to cliffhangers. Sashaying down memory lane with you made me realize how much the experience of watching television has changed, from once-a-week treat to isolated bingeing-and-tweeting. Who the heck shot J. R., anyway?

    HEALY J. R. took it in the chest from his mistress Kristin Shepard (Mary Crosby), Sue Ellen’s scheming sister. That guy was such a dirty dog, but he was also one of the first prime-time villains that viewers loved to hate. He was a forerunner to antiheroes like Tony Soprano, Walter White and Cersei Lannister.

    The “Who Shot J. R.?” season finale of “Dallas” was, for me, the greatest TV cliffhanger of all time. It came in March 1980; it wasn’t until November that Kristin was unmasked as the shooter. During the intervening months, everyone from President Carter to Vegas oddsmakers weighed in on J. R. The watercooler energy was enormous. While other television shows had fan followings, “Dallas” demonstrated that you could keep viewers in thrall for much of a year without any new episodes.

    “Dynasty” had its own cliffhangers. I’ll bet you a Dean & DeLuca coffee that we agree on the most memorable one.

    JACOBS Well, it has deeply uncomfortable resonance right now, but the Moldavian Massacre was the most memorable to me. That was truly scary: terrorists, shattering glass, bloodied bodies. Better make it a martini.

    HEALY Gruesome images — and then, cue the credits.

    JACOBS It took place during a royal wedding, with the bride, Amanda Carrington, played by real-life royalty, Catherine Oxenberg. Somehow the “Dy” in “Dynasty” was all bound up in my head with Princess Diana, and her own royal wedding to Prince Charles (never mind that the English pronounced it “Din-asty”). Obviously this was a time of conservatism and convention and backlash to the progressivism of the ’60s and ’70s.

    HEALY The depiction of so many women on “Dallas” as sexual objects and playthings definitely ran counter to progressivism. But “Dynasty” and “Dallas” could be topical, too.

    JACOBS “Dynasty” moved the national conversation forward on homosexuality. Steven Carrington is immediately introduced as being attracted to men, and despite tentativeness in how the show presented his orientation, one felt the creators were basically on his side — don’t you think? He was a likable and complex character, not a caricature.

    Then, of course, Rock Hudson’s death shortly after appearing on the show provoked national hysteria that he might have infected Linda Evans with H.I.V. by kissing her, which led to important education about how the disease is actually transmitted.

    It was dismissed for being superficial but was actually right on top of the issues! And it had a few African-American cast members, notably the great Diahann Carroll as the mega-glam Dominique Deveraux. Did “Dallas” have a single minority?

    HEALY “Dallas” was an extraordinarily white show. For a state as racially and ethnically diverse as Texas, the series really failed by reducing people of color to servants and waitresses.

    It did strive for some social relevancy, though, with its portrait of alcoholism. Sue Ellen struggled for years to get sober and stay sober: J. R. made serenity impossible, but it was really Sue Ellen’s battle with low self-esteem, betrayal, envy and self-loathing that proved painful to watch through her relapses — but ultimately pretty inspiring as she achieved stretches of sobriety.

    With the stabs at realism came the fantastical. I speak, of course, about the Mortal Sin of “Dallas” — the entire season of episodes that was retroactively labeled a “dream” of Pam’s to explain Bobby’s death and subsequent reappearance in her shower. What was the best twist of “Dynasty”?


    JACOBS I don’t recall anything as shocking as the gasp-inducing “scar” reveal by Marcia Cross on “Melrose Place,” but the return of regular-guy Matthew Blaisdel at the end of Season 7 was certainly unexpected. It was no surprise whatsoever to me, though, at that point, that he had elected to hold the Carrington family hostage.


    And speaking of “Melrose,” that brings us to the current reboot, which stars Grant Show as Blake. How do you think it will stack up against the “Dallas” one a few years ago?

    HEALY Watching the new “Dynasty,” I missed the old “Dynasty.” The new versions of both “Dynasty” and “Dallas” go young with their actors. But the “Dallas” reboot still had J. R., Sue Ellen and Bobby, and they were up to their old tricks and in fine form. If only Joan Collins wasreprising her role as Alexis in the “Dynasty” reboot, as a cougar to middle-aged Blake!

    JACOBS You keep dreaming, honey … just like Pam Ewing. And now I’ll flounce away, borrowing a line from the original Krystle:

    “If you want a rematch, just whistle … if you can!”
     
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2018
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  2. Treeviewer

    Treeviewer Soap Chat TV Fanatic

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    I think you've summed it up right there.

    I prefer show with characters I can care about, whether they be soaps, sitcoms or sci-fi. While Dynasty could certainly be entertaining it generally fell short in the believability stakes.
     
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  3. Billy Wall

    Billy Wall Soap Chat Newbie

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    Simply put, CBS was the go to station in my house growing up. That includes daytime soaps too.
     
  4. Michael Yule Torrance

    Michael Yule Torrance Soap Chat TV Fanatic

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    Dallas kept a straight face for many more years than Dynasty--until a certain someone's shower blew up the show's believability with a nuclear bomb, although Donna Reed's casting also started wildly rattling the unreality meter needle. By season 3 Dynasty was already taking a walk on the wild side. It was abandoned by its parents, the Shapiros, who gave it to the foster care of the Pollocks--though sadly the latter only took the child in for the money. And so the show did what any toddler does in such a situation: pulled one attention-grubbing stunt after another . And some were entertaining as hell.
     
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  5. Willie O! Tannenbaum

    Willie O! Tannenbaum drilling for soap

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    It was an outrageous stunt that affected the popularity of DALLAS, but it doesn't say anything about the quality of the episodes, the writing, the acting etc etc.
    When Pam woke up, we should have heard the closing theme of DYNASTY coming from the tv set in her bedroom.
    Blame it on the competition, that's what I would have done.
     
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  6. Michael Yule Torrance

    Michael Yule Torrance Soap Chat TV Fanatic

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    But to be fair, THE COLBYS theme and a UFO beam would have been more appropriate.
     
  7. Willie O! Tannenbaum

    Willie O! Tannenbaum drilling for soap

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    And then she would have screamed: Bobbyyyy!!
    -What is it, honey?
    They've cancelled THE COLBYS!
    -Oh my God!

    Cliff hanger freeze frame.
     
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  8. Michael Yule Torrance

    Michael Yule Torrance Soap Chat TV Fanatic

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    For a real twist, this should have been the last scene rather than the shower one:

    [​IMG]
     
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  9. Willie O! Tannenbaum

    Willie O! Tannenbaum drilling for soap

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    Haha! She thinks she's Randall, he thinks she's Pam and Pam thinks he's dead! And Annette O'Toole thinks she's pregnant!
     
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  10. Rove

    Rove Soap Chat Dream Maker

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    For me it's Dallas. Always was, always will be be. Dallas had an earthy appeal, characters I could relate to. Despite the Ewing family dripping in millions their wealth was never forced down my throat and I think that was clever on the writers/producers part. Dallas was also groundbreaking in telling stories which were considered taboo; Miss Ellie's breast cancer. Pam, so fraught with guilt about not having a child she contemplated suicide. Donna discovering she is pregnant with A Down's Syndrome baby. Mickey's life being ended. This happened well before euthanasia being openingly discussed like it is today and some countries passing laws to give people the right to end their life. The young man chosen to marry Lucy has an honest conversation with Bobby about his sexuality. This story was dealt with compassion and sensitivity unlike Dynasty's - I'm not sure what I am - Steven.

    .....and then there was J. R. Ewing. The man everyone wanted to be. A win at all cost attitude. He dealt crushing blows to those who dared take him on. I'm speaking of course of those early seasons...before the rot set in.

    I'm one of the few that enjoyed the first season of Dynasty. There was something sad about the characters of Blake, Fallon and Steven which drew me in. Krystle is about to marry into a world she never could have dreamed of but a family desperate for attention, guidance but most of all, love. Then, in walks Alexis. Elusive, panther like. Stalking Krystle as they make their way to the living room to chat about the missing Ming. Then Alexis does the unimaginable that not even the ruthless JR would consider. She fires the shotgun causing Krystle to miscarry. Now I had 2 shows to watch. But then something strange happened along the way. Alexis marries a corpse and becomes a business sensation overnight. Steven's face changes and so does Fallon's. It had somehow gone from adult contemporary drama to camp silliness but viewers were glued...until Dynasty had their "Red Wedding....."

    ...and Bobby stood there dripping wet.
     
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  11. Kristin Kringle Channing

    Kristin Kringle Channing Soap Chat Dream Maker

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    Usually if someone was to ask me which was my favourite of the two I would opt for Dallas for a number of reasons. But it's certainly a close call because what was good about Dynasty was so good. Dallas has a special place in my heart because of the nostalgia attached to it. The whole family watched it when I was growing up and so I was watching Dallas long before I started watching Dynasty. Dynasty was more of a dirty secret for a young boy who was already showing signs of being gay and didn't want to draw anymore attention to the fact by outwardly admitting he loved Dynasty! So I would watch it when I could but I didn't grow up on it to the same degree I did Dallas.

    And then there's the writing. Because let's face it, despite all the things Dynasty had going for it, and it had a lot, writing is important, structure is important, storytelling is important. Not saying that Dallas always got it right, but they did it better for longer. But there were elements of Dynasty that were so alluring and entertaining in ways that Dallas wasn't.

    If I can compare each one to a cake, they each had delicious ingredients, although Dynasty's were more decadent, and one could argue, more delicious. Each one looked fantastic, although Dynasty was more beautifully decorated with icing and sprinkles. However, if it's not cooked at the right temperature for the right amount of time it won't taste as good as it should. And that was the problem, despite having the sweetest, richest ingredients and being the most lavishly decorated, Dynasty, for the most part, just wasn't properly cooked. It was half baked. And Dallas, for most of it's run was pretty well baked, with plenty of care and attention going into it to make sure that it was. So in the end, although maybe it didn't look quite as good, Dallas was more filling, satisfying, and was less likely to give you indigestion.
     
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  12. Michael Yule Torrance

    Michael Yule Torrance Soap Chat TV Fanatic

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    This discussion does make me wish either a TV network in the US or a platform such as Netflix or Amazon (which does have Dynasty) would air or stream Dallas so I would have a chance to take a second look.
     
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2018
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  13. Ollie james

    Ollie james Soap Chat Newbie

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    Dallas wins for me i think when it was at its best it had a talented cast with some decent scripts to work with. You had the battle of the Ewing brothers both so different but both so watchable in there own ways. There were some pretty grounded characters too in Donna and Miss Ellie both strong but both believable. Pam was the glamour and the perfect foil to be caught between the Barnes /Ewing feud which ran through so many seasons. Cliff for so long downtrodden but just occasionally getting a victory here and there played well by Ken Kercheval. Classic cliffhangers who shot JR still mentioned to this day...However the other season finale still mentioned is that damn shower scene the moment for me at least that Dallas crossed into Dynasty territory.. On balance i would put Knots Landing above Dynasty but for me Dallas was the best because for me when it was good it was great but went it went wrong well it was literally like a bad dream!!
     
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  14. Snarky's Ghost

    Snarky's Ghost Soap Chat Oracle

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    Both shows are better when they had a melancholy tone. Melancholy simply is reality, and both DALLAS and DYNASTY worked best when they were character-based and a bit tragic, like life itself.

    So my desires for each show were similar. The glamour thing and the bitchy barbs and the cat fights of DYNASTY were just fine when they occurred in an atmosphere of relative plausibility. Same thing for DALLAS.

    Yes, DYNASTY could get away with pop-culture references, twentieth century political gossip, an outward-looking jet-setting looseness, and artistic experimentation. While DALLAS needed to be a wee bit more structured, parochial and inward-looking.

    So their tones needn't be identical.

    We've discussed many times how and when both series fell short. Glitzy DYNASTY worked best when focused on a poetic Krystle and a sociopathic Alexis, the show haunted by its past. Rustic DALLAS worked best when JR seemed determined to lead his doomed family into Hell, the show haunted more by its present.

    But a strong plotline always helps any show stay on track. Without it, everything seems like a silly contrivance, more soap than opera.

    [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
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