Saturday, February 26, 2011

DYNASTY: Season 4 Volume 2 (Spelling 1985) Paramount/CBS Home Video

Before delving into the various machinations of plot in Dynasty Season Four - Volume Two: I would like to stress the pointlessness of studio greed that chops television seasons into two volumes, simply to take advantage of the consumer and charge more money for their product. Television shows come to us in full seasons during their original aired broadcasts. Hence, there is little to encourage this continuation of giving us only half a year's worth of that experience - particularly when we are dealing with soap operas that build their story lines to a crescendo throughout a single season – enough said!
In Season Four, Volume 2, Peter DeVilbis (Helmut Berger) is exposed as a fraud. Claudia (Pamela Bellwood) reveals to Fallon (Pamela Sue Martin) that Peter has been making sexual advances to her for some time. Blake (John Forsythe) learns that Peter is behind the kidnapping of his horse and Peter digs his own grave by being apprehended at the airport with drugs in his possession. Thus ends Fallon's brief infatuation with him. Inconsolable, she throws herself in front of a moving truck; a suicide attempt that leaves her briefly paralyzed.
Meanwhile, Krystal (Linda Evans) learns she is pregnant once more, precluding her from attending a Hong Kong summit with Blake (John Forsythe) as his PR representative. Instead, Tracy (Deborah Adair) goes along. However, on the first night of their stay, Tracy attempts to seduce Blake in his hotel room. Tactfully thwarting her advances, Blake has Tracy investigated, and learns that she has been spying on his dealings for opposing interests. Tracy is promptly fired from Denver Carrington but quickly finds work at Colby Co. digging up dirt for Alexis (Joan Collins). Pushed to the brink of sanity by mysterious phone calls that sound like her late husband, Claudia flies to Peru in search of Matthew and Lindsay. Steven (Jack Coleman) tails his wife and together they discover the truth - that both Matthew and Lindsay were killed in a horrific wreck in the jungle; their bodies presumably carted off and eaten by hungry wild animals.
Blake brokers a deal with wily Arab millionaire Rashid Amed (John Saxon) to drill for oil in the South China Seas. Instead, at Alexis' behest, Amed turns around and releases news to the press that the one hundred million dollar payoff from Denver Carrington is to be used to launch a private war in the Middle East. The revelation rocks Denver Carrington to its core. Banks responsible for the loan suddenly force Blake into receivership just as Jeff (John James) and Fallon announce that they are going to remarry.
Learning that it was Alexis who drove her father to suicide, Kirby (Kathleen Beller) twice attempts unsuccessfully to murder her. Meanwhile, Dex (Michael Nader) infuriates Blake with threats of launching his own takeover of Denver Carrington, before beginning a torrid liaison with Alexis that goes nowhere fast. A new stranger arrives in town, the elegant Dominique Devereux (Diahann Caroll); flaunting her wealth and taunting Alexis with hints of their paths having crossed long ago in Europe. Despite the very real threat that he is about to lose his empire, Blake vows to give Fallon and Jeff a lavish Carrington wedding. Unfortunately, the headaches that Fallon has been suffering from since her attempted suicide are now driving her to distraction. On the eve of her wedding Fallon suffers a breakdown just as a terrible rainstorm descends on the Carrington mansion.
Police arrive to confront Alexis with the news that Mark Jennings (Geoffrey Scott) has fallen to his death from her penthouse balcony. Alexis is arrested and taken to prison under suspicion of murder. Ditching her wedding dress moments before the big moment, Fallon slips out the back way and jumps into her car. Jeff is derailed in his pursuit of Fallon by road construction and a cement truck. On a hairpin turn a little further up the road, Fallon loses control of her vehicle, disappearing over a steep precipice.
In hindsight, Fallon's wreck is an obvious way to rewrite the character - either off the show or as an entirely different actress (the latter occurring when Emma Samms took over the role late in Season Five). Yet, in general, Dynasty Season Four already seems like a show on the verge of cancellation; the comings and goings of the Carringtons and Colbys covering territory that is too familiar in all too familiar ways. It would take a new writer, Camille Marchetta to concoct what is now regarded as the best Season in the entire series - the, as yet, unreleased Season Five.
Paramount Home Video's transfers are an improvement over their work on Season Three. Edge enhancement has been greatly minimized for an overall smooth and satisfying image. Color fidelity remains solid. However, colors seem less vibrant than on previous seasons. Contrast levels also seem slightly softer than before. The audio is mono as originally recorded and adequate for this presentation.
FILM RATING (out of 5 - 5 being the best)

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