The reboot of “Dynasty” is filled with familiar names — Carringtons and Colbys. It’s filled with sort-of familiar characters — Blake, Cristal, Fallon, Steven and Jeff.
But if you remember the 1981-89 original, this new show is sort of like “Dynasty” in an alternate universe. It’s definitely “Dynasty” in a different millennium.
“It was important for us to meet our moment today the way the original met its moment in the ’80s,” said executive producer Josh Schwartz (“The O.C.,” “Chuck”).
Once again, “Dynasty” opens (Wednesday, 8 p.m., CW/Ch. 30) with megarich Blake Carrington (Grant Show) marrying much-younger Cristal (Nathalie Kelley), to the dismay of his children, Fallon (Elizabeth Gillies) and Steven (James Mackay). But in 1981, all the actors in the opening credits were white; the reboot is multicultural.
The new Mrs. Carrington (Nathalie Kelley) is Latina, quite a change from platinum blonde Linda Evans. The spelling of the name (originally Krystle) reflects that.
“This modern version represents a more current picture of what’s happening in America,” said Kelley.
Once again, Fallon is having an affair with the chauffeur. But in 2017, he’s African-American (Robert Christopher Riley), as are Jeff Colby (Sam Adegoke) and Monique Colby (Wakeema Hollis).
Monique was originally Monica, and Jeff’s story is very different in the reboot.
And there’s more. In 1981, it was a man’s world. Blake (John Forsythe) married his secretary; Fallon was a spoiled brat who didn’t work.
Blake’s first wife, Alexis (Joan Collins), who came aboard in Season 2, became a powerful businesswoman, but only because she got her claws in Blake’s biggest rival, married him on his deathbed and inherited his company.
(Again, Alexis is absent at the start, although she’s referenced multiple times in the pilot. And she will show up sometime in Season 1.)
In 2017, Cristal and Fallon are “ambitious career women,” Schwartz said. Cristal is an executive at Blake’s company; Fallon is head of acquisitions. One is about to become COO, which will make the other really unhappy.
In 1981, Blake was a raging homophobe who used gay slurs and was forever trying to turn Steven into “a man.” Steven fought against his sexuality, marrying two women. And the original never showed him kissing another man.
Today, Steven is out and proud. He’s “not toying with his sexuality,” Schwartz said. “Blake accepts him. There is no rancor over that issue.”
Heck, Blake sends Steven to a meeting specifically because the other guy is gay. “When you said we had common interests, I didn’t realize you were whoring me out, Dad,” Steven says.
They still battle, because Steven is an environmentalist and Blake definitely is not.
And, yes, gay characters get to kiss. Heck, Steven quickly ends up in bed with Sammy Jo — only this time, that’s short for Samuel Josiah (Rafael de la Fuente), and he’s Cristal’s nephew, not her niece. (Heather Locklear played Sammy Jo in the original.)
There are lots of other changes. The new “Dynasty” is set in Atlanta, not Denver. The company is Carrington Atlantic, not Denver Carrington. It’s an energy company, not just an oil company. There’s a new giant mansion. The actors in the reboot are younger, but not that much. Forsythe was 63 when the original began; Show is 55. Evans was 39; Kelley is 32.
“They seemed older then,” said Gillies, who was born four years after the original was canceled.
The other big change is that the new “Dynasty” has a sense of humor. There are laugh-out-loud exchanges. Like when Cristal requests wildflowers and the butler, Anders (Alan Dale), replies drily, “I’ll have the gardeners save whatever weeds they dig up.”
And things move much faster. Watch the original series now and it feels slow and clunky. Blake and Krystle got married in the third episode; Blake and Cristal tie the knot in the first hour.
The first of the original trademark catfights of “Dynasty” didn’t take place until the 29th episode; in the reboot, the first catfight happens in the 29th minute (not counting commercials).
Kelley and Gillies said they were reluctant to play that scene. It’s 2017 — should women be brawling?
“But then we had so much fun,” Kelley said.
“We got so scrappy. It was very funny,” Gillies said. “We were, like, ‘Never mind. We like fighting.’ … We do wear gowns while we are doing it, which is a little bit more interesting.”
And, 36 years later, entertaining in a similar though decidedly different way.