With Donald Trump in the White House, it’s the perfect time to reboot Aaron Spelling’s iconic ’80s soap Dynasty on the CW, executive producer Josh Schwartz told TV critics today at TCA.
“We are living in an age of dynasties,” he said, adding, “You can’t look at the news” without hearing about “Trump or the Clintons or the Kardashians or the Murdochs. Our news is filled with stories of dynasties.”
The reboot is about “a diverse family trying to get along despite their differences, which is a metaphor for this country now,” chimed in EP Sallie Patrick, making an entirely different point.
At any rate, some TV critics seemed to think the show has its work cut out for it if it is going to try to keep up with the family business operating out of the White House these days – and it won’t be the first TV show struggling to keep pace; Veep’s creators, for instance, have complained about the difficulties trying to top Trump’s comedy.
Other elements of the show have been brought up to date. One critic, for instance, noted how shockingly homophobic was the original. Schwartz said that’s been corrected in a big way, and family patriarch Blake Carrington won’t tear into his son for being gay so much as they will argue over fracking, for instance, explaining he assumes “in even more conservative pockets of the South” where the show now is set “those dynamics have evolved.”
Speaking thereof, when asked why the setting has been moved from Denver to Atlanta, Schwartz said Denver had been picked randomly on the map for the original series, so as to set the show in a “flyover” state. He might also have mentioned, had he known, Denver was quite the new media darling at that moment, what with Marvin Davis, Bill Daniels etc., having homes there, but we’ll let that go.
Getting back to Schwartz, he said the Denver setting was “not integral to the show.” Atlanta, star Grant Show enthused, is a “very vibrant and hip” city. Ouch, said Denver.
And, speaking of Show, his hair will not turn so blue over the seasons, as did John Forsythe’s during his run as Blake, TV critics learned, though Show bravely acknowledged he’s just a few years younger than Forsythe was when he debuted in the role.
Forsythe was “so iconic” in the role, Show said, calling the character “one of the most complicated villains in soap opera history.” But, in 2017, Blake has to change, Show said.
‘When I got the script I said, ‘This is my job and I’m not letting anyone else have it,’ ” the Melrose Place alum said, noting his history with Spelling and the soap genre. “I am uniquely positioned to play Blake Carrington and I’m having a blast.”
One thing that has not been updated in the reboot: the original’s much-loved girl-on-girl physical brawls. Because some things never change in TV, critics were told. Modern women have the right to fight, just like men, insisted Nathalie Kelley, who plays Blake’s about-to-be-wife in the update, though the name spelling has been changed to Cristal. That is her “feminist take on why we pull each other’s hair out,” Kelley joked.
The original series aired on ABC from 1981-1989. It had an inauspicious start the first season before taking off as a ratings and pop culture phenom when Joan Collins joined the cast as the scheming Alexis in a Season 2 revamp. At today’s TCA Q&A, critics were assured Alexis will make her appearance in the series’ first season, but declined to name the actress cast.
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