The CW attempted to usher in a new era of soaps on the network with Wednesday's premiere of its Dynasty reboot. And though the premiere was explosive — literally, there was an explosion — it failed to have the impact the network likely intended. But that's not to say that the hour didn't show potential.
The episode introduced viewers to a new take on the classic soap characters (whom many of the CW audience is probably ignorant of). Instead of Linda Evans' secretary Krystle, Nathalie Kelley's Cristal is an ambitious, savvy businesswoman who, in a wonderful twist, is no gold digger. While she truly does love her new husband Blake (Grant Show), Cristal is never afraid to speak her mind, even if that means potentially pissing him off. But though she preaches transparency and family values to her beau, Cristal is keeping her fair share of secrets from Blake — secrets that threaten to come out after the unexpected arrival of her trouble-making nephew Sammy Jo (Rafael de la Fuente) and the snooping of Blake's butler,
Charles Widmore Anders (Alan Dale).
Meanwhile, Blake's daughter Fallon (Elizabeth Gillies) is none too pleased to meet her new step-mom, a dislike that only grows when she learns Blake has given Cristal the coveted COO promotion over her. His son Steven (James Mackay), on the other hand, quickly warms up to Cristal, who was the one that urged Blake to reconnect with him after they had a falling out over their opposing views on fracking.
Soon enough, Fallon and Cristal are at each other's throats — once again, quite literally. There is no room for subtlety in the world of Dynasty — setting the stage for an epic rivalry between the pair. However, the rivalry extends far beyond the two women, with Fallon setting her sights on taking down her father as well. After teaming up with Blake's most loathed rival and total beefcake Jeff Colby (Sam Adegoke), Fallon reveals she's starting her own energy company, Carrington Windbryer, to compete with Carrington Atlantic. (Because the similarities between those names won't confuse anyone at all.)
Of course, Dynasty isn't all catfights and fracking talk. It wouldn't be a CW show if incredibly attractive people weren't hooking up left and right. So in between these shady business dealings and petty feuds, the premiere also set the stage for several complicated romances. After a chance encounter at a bar, Steven and Sammy Jo share a tryst before learning that they'll soon become family (and housemates!). Fallon finds herself caught in the middle of a love triangle with Jeff Colby, who's had a crush on her since high school, and her father's chauffeur Michael Culhane (Robert Christopher Riley), whom she's been hooking up with for years. And though she's devoted to Blake, Cristal had only recently ended things with her married ex-boyfriend Matthew (Nick Wechsler), who winds up being killed at the end of the premiere in an absurd fracking explosion while on assignment from Blake. Was it an accident? Was it murder? Who even knows!
Yet despite all the catfights and fireworks, something about Dynasty falls flat. Maybe it's because the CW has come so far since its days of dealing in soaps that it almost seems like a step backwards for the network, which has only recently begun breaking into the awards circuit. Or maybe it's that, with the 10-year anniversary recently passed, Gossip Girl is too fresh in our memories. As soon as Gossip Girl premiered in 2007, it defined the CW's take on primetime soaps, becoming an instant phenomenon thanks to its singular vision, iconic fashion and relentless momentum — all things Dynasty's premiere sorely lacks.
That being said, it's still too early to call whether the CW reboot has what it takes to follow in Gossip Girl's footsteps or not (let alone, whether it even deserves to breathe the same air as living legend Joan Collins), but it definitely is putting forth a whole lot of effort, some of which does pay off. At the very least, the CW's Dynasty will never leave you bored, which can't be said for all of the network's new fall shows.
Dynasty airs Wednesdays at 9/8c on the CW.
(Full disclosure: TV Guide is owned by CBS, one of the CW's parent companies.)