Over the North American summer of 1989, the American Broadcasting Company announced the network's decision to cancel 'Dynasty'. The 220th episode of the series aired on May 11, 1989 was to be its last - until the 'Reunion' mini-series in 1991. The factors giving for 'Dynasty's' demise was the rising costs of production (about $1 million to make an episode; of which $25,000 were budgeted for wardrobes) and the show's spiraling ratings.
Nolan Miller recalled, "For 5 years (1976-1980) I did 'Charlie's Angels'…they wore blue jeans, turtleneck sweaters and leather jackets - and even then everybody felt they were overdressed." Of 'Charlie's Angels' producer David Levinson explained in 1977, "We spend more time fixing hair on this show than we do filming. But that's what it's all about. Glamor.
"The success of this show ('Charlie's Angels') depends on those girls looking sweet and perfect at all times. We don’t expect anybody to actually believe the stories. The show is a great excuse for watching 3 fabulous women in action." 'Soap Opera Digest' begged to differ, "All the designer suits and lavish sets won’t help this show ('Dynasty') unless they are worn and inhabited by provocative and intriguing characters."
In the August 7, 1989 issue of 'Time' magazine, Richard Zoglin did a feature on Diane Sawyer to promote the ABC news magazine show, 'Prime Time Live' which had just made its debut 4 days earlier on Thursday August 3, 1989. The article made known former '60 Minutes' reporter Diane Sawyer had signed a contract with ABC said to worth $1.6 million.
Industry observers suggested ABC's decision to drop 'Dynasty' in favor of Diane was seen as a long term investment on a "brand name" that could return millions of dollars in profits to the network in the long run, at a cost of less than that to produce 'Dynasty'. It was noted the appearance of Diane Sawyer with Charles Gibson had increased the ratings of the program 'Good Morning America' by 30%.
In giving the final episode of 'Dynasty' the thumbs down, 'Soap Opera Digest' made the comment, "It's a shame 'Dynasty' was canceled after its best season in many years. (At the time) 'Dynasty', of all the nighttime soaps, provided viewers with the only final episode that was truly a cliffhanger. The decision to cancel or not to cancel should have been made before the cliffhanger was filmed. After 9 years (1981-89), 'Dynasty' and its loyal viewers deserved a fitting finale, not a messy pile of loose ends."
At the time, the network spokesperson stated, "Most shows don't really know for sure if they're being picked up again for the following season. But a show like 'Dynasty' didn't want to end without a cliffhanger, even if they were pretty sure it wouldn't be back. I know that Esther Sharpiro wanted to tie everything up next season with a TV movie, but I think the network felt it would cost too much. The sets have been dismantled and many of the stars have other commitments."
In the 1984-85 season, 'Dynasty' was ranked the No. 1 show on television attracting an average of 21.2 million TV households (or 25% of the ratings). 'Dynasty' beat 'Dallas' by an average of 250,000 TV households per episode that season. There were 84.9 million American households with TV sets in 1985. The 1985 cliffhanger attracted a 39 share (39% of households with TV sets switched on were watching 'Dynasty' when it went on air, roughly 22 million TV homes watched the cliffhanger in total).
In the end, 'Soap Opera Digest' observed, "'Dynasty' - which claimed a worldwide audience each week of over 100 million - became a parody of itself and that was a shame because it was once the campiest show on television. By the 3rd season (1982-83), ABC struck ratings gold with 'Dynasty.'" 'Dynasty' rated No. 1 among women of all ages and made Joan Collins a household name.
Joan had argued "that without her flair, her characterization of Alexis and her insistence on dressing the part – hat, gloves, veils, the lot – 'Dynasty' would not be the No. 1 show it became when she joined (in November 1981)." Aaron Spelling maintained, "(Joan) was the perfect vixen. It's just the way she delivered lines. It's the way she could be very bitchy.
"But then you would smile at her bitchiness and you would root for her." Michael Musto added, "No one personifies glamorous bitchery more than Joan Collins - at least when she's acting as the vitriolic Alexis. No one could tell someone off more entertainingly than Collins, who - with eyes flaring and mouth quivering - epitomized '80s greed and sparkle in a way women and drag queens imitate to this day."
By 1988, 'Soap Opera Digest' named 'Dynasty' the "Most Ruined Show". The magazine reasoned, "As the characters go, so goes the show. The personalities that once made 'Dynasty' a nighttime favorite have become thoroughly dull, so it's no surprise the show has become flat. Steven, once a controversial figure for his sex preference, became a domineering, conventional bore before he left Denver. And that’s the central problem with 'Dynasty', all the characters have become conventional. Even Alexis has been reduced to a shadow of her former self, making snotty remarks and dressing in outfits that don’t seem so outlandish anymore. She's tired, and her machinations aren't all that evil."
In the 1986-87 season, 'Magnum, p.i.' was pitted against 'Dynasty'. Tom Selleck made the observation, "Success is intangible. You just don't know when people are going to get tired of you. I am ambivalence, I guess. I love Magnum and doing the show but it is also very hard to do a show like this. There is no time for anything else. Magnum may be the best character I will ever get to play and the show may be the best job I will ever have. I don't want to see it go."
Leann Hunley confessed, "When I started acting, I just breezed along on instinct, thinking everything was okay. It wasn't until I started to study acting that I got scared. I never viewed myself as someone who had ambition. I think I have a drive I never knew I had. In college, I couldn’t find a major. I couldn't find anything that I wanted to do, so I dropped out. I was a girl looking for a place to go and a career to make.
"Fortunately, acting found me. It was a wonderful revelation to know that I could do something, make money at it, and enjoy it at the same time." Thaao Penghlis believed, "Acting is a lot like playing ball. You toss the ball to the other actor. A lot of actors miss the pitch entirely. Most of them are content to catch it. Leann not only catches the ball, she throws it right back."
Thaao had said, "My family goes back 300 years. We came from an island that was off the Turkish coast and now (in 1982) is a prime archeological site. We left the island when I was very young and moved to Australia. It was difficult because Australians didn’t want foreigners on their land (at that time). In fact, the prejudice was so great that we Anglicized our family name in an attempt to fit in.
"Ironically, one of my first jobs was with the Immigration Service. I saw on a daily basis, people who had left their country with nothing but pride, to make their stake in a new land. Or families who had saved every penny to bring over a relative. That experience taught me a great lesson and that is to always bring out the human side in my work. Every time I find the Count (Tony DiMera on 'Days of our Lives') becoming too hard, I look for the humility; because no matter how thoroughly rotten a character is, you've got to be able to show his warmth or his weakness."
Australian actor John McTernan won the 1982 TV Week Logie Award for Best Lead Actor In A Series. John conceded, "TV scared me. It still does. I had never thought of myself as a butch cop and didn't think I would even get the part. Television worried me because you're overworked and unprepared. Very often TV shows strive for quantity and not quality."
John said he accepted the part of Detective Tom Shannon in 'Cop Shop' because a friend "rang me up and told me a year in TV wouldn’t hurt me and would give me some financial security. I miss the theatre. I'd love to do a film. But you have to be free to be asked. You have to live dangerously. You cannot get lazy and complacent. I’d rather go down in flames than remain a safe success."