"A total stranger! An obese nurse...a fat phantom in white tells me that my own flesh and blood is alive and well, not my family! Not one of you! Why?!" - Alexis
When last we left Denver, the Carrington and Colby clans were in all sorts of turmoil: Blake lay unconscious on a cliff after his horse got spooked by a snake, as nemesis Dr. Nick Toscanni left him to die in the rain; Claudia was getting more cuckoo by the second; Fallon and Jeff's newborn, Little Blake, was kidnapped from his crib; Alexis had finally tracked down a man she hopes to use as a weapon against Krystle; and Cecil suffered a heart attack while having sex, with Alexis frantically trying to slap him back to life in one of the funniest scenes ever in the series--and in television.
That's why I love Dynasty, that quintessential '80s indulgence that was nothing if not entertaining. While it was outlasted by the other three heavyweight soaps of the decade (Dallas, Knots Landing and Falcon Crest), Dynasty was always the most outlandish. It was the least realistic, the loudest and the most fun.
After the shorter Season 1 finally got a release in 2005, it took more than two years--a delay caused in part by the rights moving to a different studio--for Season 2 to get released last year. Thankfully, we had a much shorter wait for Season 3, although in an odd movie, Paramount decided to release it in two volumes: this installment has the first 12 episodes of the season on three discs. The rest of the episodes will be released in Volume 2 on October 21, 2008. Season 3 had 24 episodes, two more than Season 2--but Season 4 clocks in at a whopping 27, so if we (hopefully) get another release, I'm imagining we'll see a similar pattern.
With Season 3, Dynasty was still laying the groundwork for what was yet to come, setting the stage for its meatiest years in Seasons 4-6. The plots were still ridiculous, but not quite as wacky as what would follow. The cliffhangers are soon resolved--Toscani (James Farentino) is gone, and Claudia (Pamela Bellwood) makes only a few appearances in this volume as both become prime suspects in the Carrington kidnapping case. But one of her scenes is a doozy, a beautifully tasteless sequence on a rooftop that epitomizes the essence of the show: jaw-dropping, high-class trash.
Meanwhile, Cecil lies near death's door in the hospital as an anxious Alexis tries to marry him--and take over ColbyCo--before it's too late ("I've heard of shotgun weddings, but deathbed weddings?!" says Blake), leading to another unforgettable display of hammed-up acting.
A few overriding story arcs take shape, the biggest being the introduction of Adam (Gordon Thomson), the long-lost child of Blake and Alexis. Or is he? During the media circus of Little Blake's kidnapping, Alexis reveals that her firstborn child with Blake was kidnapped as an infant and never found. In Billings, Montana, an old woman sees the newscast and tells her grandson Michael that she was the culprit--and that he is Adam Carrington.
The lawyer hops on a plane and works his way into the family--but not without quickly alienating Blake. Thomson would stay with the series through the rest of its run, and immediately asserts himself as one of the show's smoothest villains. An intelligent and ambitious ladies' man, Adam also has a violent temper--a frightening side that frequently surfaces, cutting through his suave veneer. He makes an enemy out of almost everyone, but his biggest targets become Blake and brother-in-law Jeff Colby (John James), who leaves Denver Carrington and takes a job at ColbyCo to keep an eye on Adam. That comes after a new revelation about a stockholder in Denver Carrington puts the company's future in jeopardy.
The new son also makes a play for Fallon (Pamela Sue Martin), who asserts her independent womanhood this season by transforming daddy's La Mirada dump of a hotel into La Mirage (her costume-laden Roaring '20s party provides the most opulent moment of this set) Unaware that she is his sister, Adam pours on his womanizing, resulting in one of the show's more cringe-inducing kisses.
Two more cast members make their debut this season. Mark Jennings (Geoffrey Scott) is brought to Denver by the scheming Alexis--the handsome tennis pro was Krystle's first husband, and an apparent divorce snafu may mean they're still married. Scott flirts his way through the cast, setting his sights on getting Krystle back. One episode later, the daughter of Carrington butler Joseph (Lee Bergere) arrives from Europe: Kirby (Kathleen Beller) immediately reveals her crush on Jeff, and sees some hope as his marriage to Fallon is on shaky ground.
Season 3's Freshman Class
But Jeff has bigger problems--namely the poisonous paint fumes that are slowly destroying him, a gift from the jealous Adam. His dementia starts to trouble his loved ones, and sends the meek, emotionally fragile Kirby into the arms of Adam for a night that will come back to haunt her.
As the first half of the season progresses, another subplot begins to take shape. Having left Denver at the end of Season 2, Steven Carrington is M.I.A.--until the family learns that he's working on an oil rig in Indonesia. But word of an explosion sends shockwaves through the clan. Unable to accept that his son is dead, Blake heads overseas (and even hires a psychic!) to track down Steven (at which point I laugh, the perfectly approprite--and funniest--line from Heathers dancing through my head: "I love my dead gay son!").
Fans of the show know that actor Al Corley left over a character dispute (the studio apparently wanted Steven to be "cured" of his homosexuality), and was replaced by Jack Coleman (now of NBC's Heroes). Despite being pictured on the back of the box, Coleman actually doesn't appear--save for one brief scene where you can't see his face--in these 12 episodes. (Another box snafu is the picture of the pond fight between Alexis and Krystal, which also happens in the latter half of the season).
And making one appearance is Heather Locklear, who always added a great spark to the show as trampy gold-digger Sammy Jo, the white trash princess. Not yet a regular (she was pulling double duty with her nicer role on T.J. Hooker), she shows up in episode 12 with a surprise for the family (Locklear appears more in the second half of the season). I also laughed (actually, I cried) when she fills up her gas tank for $14.85. If that wasn't enough to make you yearn for the "Me!" decade, Blake is worried about the health of Denver Carrington because of the oil glut that the country is in. Sigh...those were the days.
I'm a little miffed that we don't get the whole season in one package, but as long as they keep coming, I'll be a happy man. Each episode runs about 47 minutes. As my esteemed colleague Paul Mavis notes in his review of Season 2, the DVD sleeve notes that "some episodes may be edited from their original network versions." I'm not sure what content that may be (if at all), but most of the goods seem intact--although there are no "Last time, on Dynasty..." recaps preceding each one (I seem to remember those from the original broadcasts, and it would have been nice to have them here). I'd advise against reading the episode summaries on the inner sleeve, as they reveal a little to much and spoil some of the surprises.
It's impossible not to get caught up in the fun of this series--it knew what it was doing, and it didn't care. Glitz, glamour, sex, scandal...it was melodramatic escapism at its most luridly entertaining.
1. The Plea (aired 10/27/1982) Krystle finds Blake in the mountains. Cecil is brought to the hospital. A police investigation is started to find the baby. Blake goes on TV with the family to offer a reward for Little Blake. Alexis talks about their son Adam, who was kidnapped when he was a baby. In Montana, Michael Torrance is told by his dying grandmother that he really is Adam Carrington.
2. The Roof (aired 11/3/1982) Michael goes to Denver to find out who he is. Alexis and Cecil plan a wedding in the hospital. Claudia disappears and Blake suspects her of kidnapping the baby.
3. The Wedding (aired 11/10/1982) The baby is recovered from the real kidnapper. Fallon starts looking for a job, and Blake gives her his hotel La Mirada. She and Michael meet, not knowing they may be brother and sister. Michael seeks Blake, but Blake rejects him when he says he's his son. Cecil and Alexis get married in the hospital.
4. The Will (aired 11/17/1982) Cecil leaves his estate and ColbyCo to Jeff and Alexis. He also reveals his "Rhinewood" game to Blake at the reading of his will. Blake suspects Alexis of being a part of it. Adam finds Alexis and shows her the silver rattle he had when he was kidnapped.
5. The Siblings (aired 11/24/1982) Alexis gives her newfound long-lost son Adam a job at ColbyCo. Blake starts to believe that Adam may actually be his real son. Fallon and Adam keep flirting with each other, not knowing they are siblings. Adam has dinner with Krystle and Blake. Alexis finally meets Krystle's first husband, Mark.
6. Mark (aired 12/1/1982) Blake tries to be friends with Adam. Alexis tells Mark that he's still married to Krystle. Mark tries to get a job as a tennis pro at Fallon's hotel. Jeff joins ColbyCo. Joseph wants to quit his job at the mansion and go to his daughter, Kirby, who's having trouble in France.
7. Kirby (aired 12/8/1982) Joseph's daughter Kirby comes to stay with the Carringtons. Mark gets the job at Fallon's hotel. Blake tries to get help from congressman Neal McVane. Jeff and Adam have problems working together. Adam gets the hold of a toxic chemical mixture.
8. La Mirage (aired 12/15/1982) Fallon gets a letter from Steven, who is on an oil rig in Indonesia. Adam mixes the toxic compound in the paint for Jeff's new office. Fallon hires Kirby as a nanny for little Blake, and throws a big opening party for her hotel, which she now calls La Mirage. At the party, Alexis sleeps with McVane and tries to stop him from helping Blake. Mark tells Krystle that they're still legally married. Adam comes on to Kirby, and Jeff comes to her rescue.
9. Acapulco (aired 12/22/1982) Jeff starts to become dizzy and affected by the toxic paint. Joseph tells Kirby to stay away from Jeff. Krystle goes to Acapulco to find out what really happened with her divorce from Mark, and Blake comes after her. The oil rig Steven works on explodes.
10. The Locket (aired 12/29/1982) The family is informed that Steven's oil rig exploded. Blake goes to look for him, with an uninvited Alexis. Sammy Jo's father returns to Denver to collect her share of Steven's inheritance. Joseph tells Jeff to stay away from Kirby. Mark continues to contact Krystle, who tries to get him out of her life.
11. The Search (aired 1/5/1983) Alexis and Blake continue the search for Steven in Indonesia, but find evidence that he might be dead. Blake refuses to believe it, and hires a psychic to help. Jeff gets ill from the paint in his office. Frank surprises Krystle outside La Mirage.
12. Samantha (aired 1/12/1983) Blake continues his search for Steven. Fallon mends fences with Krystle. Blake refuses to attend the memorial service Alexis has arranged for Steven. Alexis seduces Mark. Sammy Jo arrives at the Carrington household.
For a 26-year old series, the full-frame presentation here is actually pretty darn nice. A few scenes--like the opening credits, and the brief filler sequences (usually outdoors) that bridge the bigger scenes--show more obvious dirt and film specs, but that's minor. The majority of the video is sharp and colorful, doing a good job of conveying all the glamour.
You only get a mono option, but once again it's pretty impressive. The dialogue is clear and distinct, just as sharp as the picture. You can also choose a Spanish mono track, and subtitles are available in English and Spanish.
Sadly, no extras at all...I'm hoping we get some good ones as the releases progress (*crossing my fingers*).
Even with just half a season (the other half comes out this Fall), the third season of Dynasty still entertains. The show sells itself, so who cares if you don't get any extras? The glitz, the glamour, the sex, the scandal...and one the greatest TV bad asses ever make this just as much fun today as it was in 1982. With some of the tackiest scenes ever put on TV, you'll smile in spite of yourself.