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1980s

GUILTY PLEASURE: Dynasty

The 1980s were the “Greed is Good” decade, when big money and the rich people that spent it fabulously were the national obsession. In 1981, when television network ABC gave tv writer/ producers Esther and Richard Shapiro the green light to create a primetime soap opera, the duo wanted to bravely go where soaps had never gone before. What the duo created was DYNASTY, a glitzy (and often campy) hit that would go on to top the ratings for much of its 1981-1989 run. The saga of the Carrington and Colby families, two wealthy, Denver-based oil magnates came to epitomize this over-the-top era. During those nine seasons, not only was the usual betrayal, murder and scheming that soaps are known for front and center. What really set DYNASTY apart from the pack were storylines dealing with themes that included homosexuality, incest and interracial siblings. Not to forget that this was still a soap opera about rich people, all the drama was served up in diamonds, gigantic shoulder pads and lots and lots of sequins! Dynasty demonstrated that no matter how much mud slinging went on in the lives of the rich and unscrupulous, the rich always do it while wearing impeccable fashion. The clothes were so opulent that the show’s costume designer, Nolan Miller, became a household name in his own right. Veteran actor John Forsythe played oilman Blake Carrington and blonde beauty Linda Evans his beloved (and perpetually beleaguered) second wife, Krystle.

 

Though DYNASTY started off as somewhat of an inferior clone to DALLAS (the CBS network’s hit predecessor) what gave this show a major jolt of adrenaline was the second season arrival of Joan Collins, as Blake’s scheming ex-wife Alexis. It is fair to say that Collins, a sultry British brunette once dubbed “the poor man’s Elizabeth Taylor,” at the ripe age of 48, became the prototype of what we now call a “MILF”. Never before had an “older” woman been portrayed as both voraciously sexual AND cunning. Alexis would go on to seduce countless men, marry (a considerably younger) one, engage in countless legendary cat-fights with Krystle and give Blake a serious run for his money in the boardroom by assuming control of rival oil company ColbyCo. Basically, Collins stole the whole damn show!

 

The show’s creators originally planned to push the envelope with the character of Steven Carrington, Blake’s hunky gay son, portrayed first by actor Al Corley and then by Jack Coleman. Corley allegedly departed the series after the second season because he felt he had been promised his character’s homosexuality would be more pivotal to storylines and that the writers ultimately failed to deliver.

The CW Network bravely/foolishly decided to give this show a reboot in 2017 with a new cast of actors taking over the same characters depicted in the original. Try as they might, they won’t be able to perfectly capture the zeitgeist of the times quite like the iconic original.

GUILTY PLEASURE: Favorite Son (1988)

You think our current Presidential administration is a morally bankrupt, hot mess of special interests? Well, it ain’t got nothing on the one in FAVORITE SON, a 1988 political thriller mini-series that eerily foreshadowed our present day events. Hunky Harry Hamlin is a conniving, rising young Senator with his eye on becoming Vice President.

Orchestrating his climb to the White House is his ruthless, gorgeous advisor, played by blonde bombshell Linda Kozlowski. This woman is as comfortable using her body and beauty to get what she wants as she is using an automatic assault rifle. If you like machiavellian, scheming hotties (think Robin Wright in ‘House Of Cards’) she’s your gal!

After Hamlin narrowly survives an assassination attempt in which a Nicaraguan diplomat is killed, FBI agents played by Robert Loggia and Lance Guest head up an investigation where a trail of conspiracies lead right up to the Oval Office of the President himself. This flick is filled with the familiar faces of veteran character actors like John Mahoney, Ronny Cox and Robert Loggia, all of whom are top notch here. Loggia, whose performance as the cynical, world-weary (but surprisingly idealistic) FBI agent determined to reveal the truth was so highly praised that he got a short lived spinoff series (Mancuso, FBI) based on his character. Worth watching for him alone. There’s plentiful sex scenes with the stunning Kozlowski, who shows a whole lot of skin, but also some impressive chops as an actress (a whole lot more than she ever did in the Crocodile Dundee films). Based on the acclaimed book by Stephen Sohmers, this tele-flick caused a minor uproar at the time (it was on network tv folks!) for showing then-taboo subjects: three-way sex, female masturbation, and S&M. Filled with double-crosses and some (still) shocking sex-capades. Check it out given how ‘ripped from today’s headlines’ it was even 30 years ago.