DYNASTY's lack of character antagonists

Discussion in 'Dynasty' started by Michael Torrance, Oct 18, 2019.

  1. Michael Torrance

    Michael Torrance Soap Chat Enthusiast

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    I was thinking recently, with the discussion of how under-utilized Diahann Carroll was, the crippling problem DYNASTY had plot-wise, that of no serious antagonists to the characters. The Blake-Alexis vendetta soon was caricaturish, or perhaps even started that way from the very first scene back when she was moving in. The Alexis-Krystle antagonism started explosive, but soon Krystle was defused and even Alexis did not really see her as a threat anymore, domesticated and wrapped up in her FiLoLi-syndrome compound. And of course Cecil Colby, who had great potential, was turned into a poor man's Blofeld by season two, and then promptly killed.

    Yet Sable in season 9 showed it was possible for Alexis to have a serious antagonist. Why couldn't that have been Dominique earlier on? Or later Caress? Cecil being killed off was a narrative tragedy for the show, turning the show's universe all about Blake's legacy and semi-incestuous. What if Daniel Reece was not some Rock Hudson stunt casting but Sammy Joe's father, who also fell in love with Dominique? Imagine Sammy Joe with Dominique as her stepmom. Or Sammy Joe plotting with Alexis against Dominique.

    Similarly, Blake needed someone to challenge him other than Alexis, or Alexis needed to not have full control of her empire. What if her dirty tricks with the south china sea oil leases led to investors' lack of confidence? What if Colbyco needed an infusion of cash, to be provided by a California Colby, or Dex, or even Brady Lloyd?

    Yet characters were introduced as a single arc element rather than enriching the canvas. Mark came in just to drive a wedge between Krystle and Blake. Even though the show showed that he had chemistry with Alexis and Fallon, both relationships were soon dropped and by season four the character was useless plot-wise. Same plot rigidity happened with Tracy, Lady Ashley, Daniel Reece, the works. And of course the show would introduce core characters such as Amanda, Dominique, Caress, and Ben only to soon be bored with them and ship them off--the same thing the Pollocks, in an interview, stated they were horrified that Shapiro had planned to do so with Blake's ex wife Madeline and her six episode arc.

    Looking back, it is preposterous that characters were introduced to the show's chess board without any forethought or what the next moves would be, so that in the end the writers ended up playing mere checkers with knights, bishops, castles, and queens.
     
    Last edited: Oct 18, 2019
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  2. Willie Oleson

    Willie Oleson SoapLand Battles Moderator

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  3. colbyco

    colbyco Soap Chat Active Member

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    Dynasty was really good in creating interesting characters and introducing them
    * Alexis in court
    * Adam & grandma
    * Dex taking Alexis by storm
    * Dominique & the luggage
    * Amanda while Alexis is in prison
    * Caress in prison
    * Ben in Australia

    but then they didn´t know what to do with them or changed the characters in a bad way
     
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  4. 80slove

    80slove Soap Chat Newbie

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    Forgive the ignorance, but I have seen mention before of a possible previous fiancé/ wife of Blake’s, but know no more detail. Was this actual a planned plot, and if so, what had been planned?
     
  5. Snarky's Ghost

    Snarky's Ghost Soap Chat Oracle

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    Kate O'mara says one of the producers admitted that they "make it up as the go along." Not a good idea for a serialized drama, but obviously the case as DYNASTY really got going.

    The show wasn't character-oriented and clearly became a mere cash cow for the brass. So fleshing out the relationships didn't seem to be much of a priority.

    We also had a thread (before the old soapchat was murdered) that, unlike DALLAS and its cartel, you had no peripheral Denverites on DYNASTY other than the house staff and Gordon Wales.

    Was there some hint somewhere that the lady in the limo might've been a former fiancée, or did we (or I) just make that up?? And was the voice Lauren Hutton?
     
  6. Michael Torrance

    Michael Torrance Soap Chat Enthusiast

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    No, that was a forum suggestion.

    Yes, which is sad considering the season one dinner party and Fallon's lesson about appearances to Krystle.

    The Lauren Hutton rumour has appeared a lot through the decades, including the DYNASTY wiki (https://carringtondynasty.fandom.com/wiki/Catch_22_(1989) to the point that I think perhaps some show staffer leaked it. In the script, the character was named Elias, which is a Greek male name but given to a woman--just like Alexis, a Greek male name given to a woman. There was also info that she would be someone with an axe to grind against Blake, from his past.
     
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2019
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  7. Alexis

    Alexis Soap Chat Warrior

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    With a show like DYNASTY I think that writers/producers should envision or create the end of the season first and where all the characters should be at that point. Then sort of work backwards from that. See what they ultimately wanted the season finale to achieve then plan the season around that. You can clearly tell that they never did that with DYNASTY. They didn't know where they were going with it. I doubt they even had a properly functioning writers room with meetings and story planning.
     
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  8. Richard Channing

    Richard Channing Soap Chat Star

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    Yes, Dynasty could certainly have taken a few lessons from Dallas on how to structure a season, and also near the end of that season how to effectively set things up for the following one.
     
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  9. Snarky's Ghost

    Snarky's Ghost Soap Chat Oracle

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    I think they did that, more or less, with Season 9 because that was part of David Paulsen's often-Shakespearean sense of structure -- which is why the DALLAS narrative collapsed after he left that show. But it was too late to save DYNASTY.

    It's funny how much logical dialogue and a forward sense of story flow affect the feel of a show --- all of DYNASTY's landlocked, excessively interior dynamic would have seemed less obvious if the repartee and the plots made more sense. But without that, the endless flavor of in-studio artificiality just overwhelms the viewer.
     
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  10. Michael Torrance

    Michael Torrance Soap Chat Enthusiast

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    The irony is that DYNASTY perfected DALLAS' continuous drama recipe with its novel-like structure for season 1. The Pollocks did have a complete bible for season 2, which was nowhere as polished as season 1, but was as good as a DALLAS season in terms of narrative progress.

    But then the show started seeing its season bible as something less than, you know, a written-in-stone bible. There was serious retooling for season 3, season 4 had mini-bibles rather than a season-long one, and then Marchetta had a bible for season 5 which was also heavily retooled by the Pollocks. Season 6 and Diana Gould's bible lasted only until the ratings plummeted, and season 7 was again heavily retooled mid-season. Season 8 was the first with a season-long arc that did NOT change, same as season 9 as @Snarky's Ghost mentioned.

    But I think it is not even enough to have a planned bible--I believe they need to look at whether events make sense from the perspective of the characters and whether past actions affected the future ones. That is where, after the first couple of seasons, the show faltered. As @Alexis mentioned, it is important to decide what you want for your characters. There was no lack of static characters on DALLAS, but when they got it right, like with Sue Ellen, it was its own reward more than any other plot machinations.
    And as I have said before, the reason here in this forum we have so many ideas about DYNASTY and the brass had none is simple: we are fans of the show. They were not.
     
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  11. GillesDenver

    GillesDenver Soap Chat Fan

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    I don't think season 4 had mini-bibles, it's just that for some reason the Pollocks decided to not follow the seasonal bible after a dozen of episodes.

    As for season 2, I don't think the Pollocks followed all their original plans. Just look at Sammy Jo, it's obvious that after a few episodes they decided to give her a new direction.
     
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  12. Michael Torrance

    Michael Torrance Soap Chat Enthusiast

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    Well, no show has everything transferred from page to screen, but the first two seasons of DYNASTY were closer to the original plan than most. Of course, changes always happen. Even after the episode by episode script breakdown of season 2, they decided to drop one episode (after VIVA LAS VEGAS) and transfer events to the ones before and after--sometimes that even has to do with network schedules, episode orders, etc. For example, if you look at newspaper interviews, you will see in season 9 things that were announced and dropped (such as that dancer character, whoever that would be).

    As for season 4, the Pollocks had said in an interview that they did not really have a season-long bible because they thought that people had "seen it all" after so many years of prime time soaps, so they went with mini stories for groups of characters in 1984 . Esther Shapiro even claimed that people went through their garbage to look for scripts, because the unpredictability threw them off and did not allow them to guess what would happen next. I may be elevating their zig-zag surprise plotting too much by calling it mini-bibles, I admit. I am just saying that, per their admission, DYNASTY was without a season-long arc officially that season, and boy does it show. But I think the Pollocks had simply run out of ideas and did not want to be head writers any more. Their original bible had took them to the end of 1983, and they had planned to pull back from the show in 1984, as their departure was announced at the end of season 4, together with the addition of Marchetta, which was quite a coup and even got some industry press. Of course, the Pollocks were brought back quickly in season 5, albeit as special consultants. I suspect that had something to do with Esther Shapiro getting the green light for the spin-off and wanting them on board for that. Then again, Marchetta claimed they came to offer their "inimitable magic."
     
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  13. Snarky's Ghost

    Snarky's Ghost Soap Chat Oracle

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    Marchetta said that -- about the Pollocks??
     
  14. Michael Torrance

    Michael Torrance Soap Chat Enthusiast

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    Yeah, it is in that french website where they have lots of interviews with Dynasty writers.
     
  15. Snarky's Ghost

    Snarky's Ghost Soap Chat Oracle

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    Have you read her interview with Ultimate Dallas?
     
  16. Michael Torrance

    Michael Torrance Soap Chat Enthusiast

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    I don't think so
     
  17. Snarky's Ghost

    Snarky's Ghost Soap Chat Oracle

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    I can't find it. Perhaps it's gone with the wind...

    Marchetta found the Pollocks' lack of respect for logic to be frustrating; Rita Lakin didn't really onsider them legit writers, I think.

    I still sometimes wonder if SAD didn't have the most undermining effect of anything -- it prevented the actors from compensating for script problems. Who knows how Season 2 might have felt if SAD had been implemented that early...??

    [​IMG]
     
  18. GillesDenver

    GillesDenver Soap Chat Fan

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    Since nobody read them here, it's hard to say so. But for season 2, I see plenty of things that might have changed over its course : Logan Rhinewood being revealed as Cecil Colby, Alexis marring Cecil (there was no trace of love or friendship in their first discussions), Claudia being crazy...

    And even for season 1, I'm not convinced that it was planned to kill Ted Dinard in the original plans. The whole trial seems to me like a (brilliant) way to raise the ratings.

    "Knots Landing" obviously rarely follow their original plans but it does not matter. The important is to be able to cover its tracks, which demand a lot of work. I guess after a while the "Dynasty" writers were to lazy to cover their changes. And they became more obvious season after season .

    Actually it was the episode before. Sorry I am a little bit pernickety here !:oops:

    A seasonal bible is always divided this way : 1) The follow-up of the previous season 2) The premise of the new season 3) Arcs for a character or a group of characters 4) Resume of the whole season
    Of couse the Pollocks wrote arcs for groups of characters for season 4, like they did for seasons 2 and 3, but they did not only wrote that. ABC would never have accepted to be unable to read a bible for the season.

    I insist, most of the stories were changed after a dozen of episode (Tracy and Adam's ungoing affair was dropped, Kirby abruptly terminated her marriage to Jeff, we never found out that Mark tried to kill Alexis at the hospital, etc) and I add that, by the end of the season, there were almost no trace of the original plans (like in season 7 but with much better results according to me).
    I don't know if they did that because they thought they could come with better stories or if that would bring some unpredictability to their scripts but they surely had plans for a whole season, even though they choose to not follow them.
     
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2019
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  19. Ked

    Ked Soap Chat Enthusiast

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    How about this for Season 5:

    -Daniel Reece and Lady Ashley are given way fewer episodes to make room for Brady Lloyd.

    -Brady has shady business deals with both Blake and Alexis.

    -Brady sleeps with Alexis, who throws this bit of information in Dominique's face, except Dominique is like, "Yeah? So? Brady has a right to amuse himself when he's doing business." This causes Alexis and Dominique to catfight in Alexis' office; they're separated by Steven.

    -Brady tries to seduce/woo Krystle, and *this* is what sets off Dominique, who has a catfight with Krystle. The fight ends in a draw.

    -Dominique is *NOT*, I repeat, *NOT* Blake's sister in this re-imagining, which allows for her to be given Ashley's plot of having designs on Blake - mostly to get back at Brady and Krystle. This means that Dominique is the one responsible for Krystle receiving photos of Blake with another woman.

    -Dominique ends up having a much more serious affair with Daniel Reece, and Sammy Jo worries that she'll lose her father's money; after some shenanigans (perhaps involving Brady and Sammy Jo bedding each other), Daniel Reece breaks off with Dominique and summons Sammy Jo and Krystle to his office, where he announces to them the new revisions of his will: a relieved Sammy Jo will receives his money - but Krystle will be in charge of it, causing much outrage from his daughter... who also ends up meeting Rita...

    -Lady Ashley mostly exists for a handful of episodes where she and Jeff have their lukewarm romance; Dominique discovers that Ashley is broke and marrying Jeff only for his money; Nicole Simpson is stalking them and by accident is invited to the wedding; that way the death count is higher for the massacre:

    -King Galen
    -Yuri
    -Prince Michael
    -Rosalind
    -Nicole
    -Ashley
    -Brady
    -Daniel
    -Claudia?
     
  20. Michael Torrance

    Michael Torrance Soap Chat Enthusiast

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    Yeah, I have never seen anything about these seasons, so you are right. But I remember having seen a summary of the Pollocks' bible for their own soap, and they did have many of the elements that they gave to DYNASTY, including the race car driver son and the long-lost kidnapped one.

    Do you mean you liked the outcome of season 4? The first ten episodes seem like there is still some plot they follow, but then the show starts going off the rails narrative-wise. Adam and Kirby's story is the only one that continues throughout the season. You are right that there were changes even in these first ten episodes. What I am talking about are the later mini-stories (Claudia and the tapes, Fallon's accident and miraculous recovery, Tracy's seduction attempt) that came and went in a few episodes. DYNASTY had never done that before, and according to the Pollocks that was their attempt to write against the form (I am sorry but I don't remember the exact words, but it was something to that effect). Maybe they did write a bible as you said, but in their account of the season, they had said that they only had written for the first half (even less, actually).
     
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2019
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