ABC (Thurs., 9 p.m. ET)
It would have been less rigorous to go through med school than to prepare for the premiere of Dynasty II: The Colbys. Since I confess—or is it brag?—that I’m no Dynasty devotee, I needed to watch the Dynasty segment that introduced spin-off stars Charlton Heston and Barbara Stanwyck, the two-hour Dynasty a week before the spin-off, a one-hour Dynasty the night of the spin-off, then the spin-off itself. I OD’d on jewels, swimming pools, blondes in ball gowns and silly names: Bliss, Sable, Miles, two Krystles and one Moldavia. And I sat in awe of scripts that were veritable Metropolitan Museums of Clichés. But still, I did gain some appreciation (though still no addiction) for Dynasty. The original has gone beyond—or below—camp to bald comedy. To see Dynasty’s Joan Collins of the limitless libido making Freudian cracks about her husband’s gun and then dressing up as a nun is always worth a laugh—well worth it. But Dynasty II isn’t so funny. It’s even a little tragic. The characters aren’t as outrageous or enjoyable. Emma Samms as the forgetful Fallon and Maxwell Caulfield as Miles are perfectly paired in acting talent; they’ll make you cringe as quick as any couple on The Newlywed Game. Katherine Ross is almost as discomforting. And seeing the legendary Stanwyck, done up in Big Valley duds, galloping off after her cowboy stud, Joseph Campanella, seems a sad self-parody. But the cast isn’t Dynasty II’s big problem—John James is good enough; Stephanie Beacham as Sable makes a suitable shrew; Heston fits his part. No, the problem is excess: too many thin plots, too many people, too little sense. I sympathized with the amnesiac Fallon/Randall and the fake Krystle when they didn’t know anybody on their shows. Even after all my preparation, I still needed a friend to explain who was what to whom. And that’s a problem for a new series. Both Dynastys could use some ABC version of Alistair Cooke—Robin Leach, perhaps—to introduce and explain each episode. That is, if the world really needs two Dynastys.