“Dynasty” was trashy, campy and almost contemptuously disrespectful of its audience’s intelligence. “Dynasty: The Making of a Guilty Pleasure” recaptures these traits with brain-numbing efficiency.

ABC’s revisit to one of its greatest successes is billed as satire, but how could you tell? “Dynasty” was a parody of itself. The re-creation of the network’s answer to “Dallas” is also an attempt to pre-empt rivals from usurping vintage ABC series for contemporary Nielsen points, as NBC has done with “Charlie’s Angels” and “Three’s Company” telemovies.

This is an era when Americans seem more interested in the making of sausages than the actual sausages, especially when there’s a juicy story to go with it. There were plenty of those with “Dynasty.” However, one crucial caveat is essential. “The Making of a Guilty Pleasure” is an extremely loose history, as acknowledged by a disclaimer revealing timeline compression as well as fictional characters and incidents. In other words, this is not a movie to be taken seriously – not that any rational person would do that.

As the movie opens, ABC is jonesing for its own “Dallas” after the Ewing clan becomes black gold for CBS. Early pitches are clumsy, with barely an attempt to hide the fact that they are unabashed knockoffs. In various incarnations, the “Dallas” wannabe is dubbed “Fort Worth” and “Oil.”

It isn’t until husband-wife producers Richard and Esther Shapiro forge an alliance with the prodigious Aaron Spelling that “Dynasty” begins to take shape. It’s a shotgun marriage, with ABC’s finger on the trigger. The Shapiros, especially the domineering Esther, chafe at the thought of being overwhelmed by Spelling, who has so many series on the network it is mockingly put down as Aaron’s Broadcasting Company.

The original and the revisit part company in one significant way. The “Dynasty” budget for salaries escalated faster than the cost of a barrel of crude, eventually becoming a factor in the series’ demise. The movie is done on the cheap. It would be difficult to identify the biggest name. Pamela Reed, as the shrewish Esther Shapiro, has some strong credentials and shines in this ensemble, but she no longer commands top dollar. Alice Krige is a passable Joan Collins.

Otherwise, it’s strictly B-list or lower, and the producers got what they paid for. Ritchie Singer plays Richard Shapiro, who is relentlessly harangued by his domineering wife. Bart John requires a suspension of disbelief to be credible as John Forsythe, as does Melora Hardin as Linda Evans. Heather Locklear is barely acknowledged, so Holly Brisley’s anonymous performance is insignificant. Aaron Spelling, one of the best known behind-the-scenes people in the business, has been portrayed numerous times but never as unconvincingly as he is by Nicholas Hammond. Rel Hunt has a moment or two as Al Corley, and Rachel Taylor is sufficiently beautiful as Catherine Oxenberg.

However, the film does deserve points for delivering to “Dynasty” fans what it promises: guilty pleasure.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.