Tiffany jewelry worth over $1.6 million were loaned to the 'Dynasty' production company for filming in the 1982-83 TV season. In the season-ending cliffhanger which saw Krystle and Alexis trapped inside a burning cabin, some 50 million viewers were counted watching. Aaron Spelling stated, "We didn’t want an everyman serial. We felt that in times of recession, people liked to get away from their mundane lives. So we set out to capture the flamboyant opulence of the rich."
At the time, 'Dynasty' provided viewers with an hour of entertainment to forget about "two-bit traumas and get lost in some really expensive angst." It also constituted coffee-break chatter. Eileen (Mike) Pollock pointed out, "People have many needs and one of them is entertainment. Soap operas give people something to gossip about without hurting anybody. 'Dynasty' is simply a way for people to have fun, and I've yet to find somebody who has had too much fun."
Krystle (incredulous): Money – your leitmotif in life. How's that for an ex-stenographer?
Alexis (looking down her nose at Krystle): Charming. Erudite. So Wagnerian. And so surprising.
While in London in 1976, Esther Shapiro came up with the concept for the 'Dynasty' TV series. Esther elaborated, "We were living in England in 1976 and there was the oil crunch and I kept thinking, who controls all that, who are the really powerful people? I identified very strongly with (Blake Carrington). He is a man searching for control. I look for control in my own life. We became producers because we wanted control. I wondered about life inside a slick, rich oil family whose men are ever-powerful and whose women are never fat. The rest is history."
Esther and Richard Shapiro approached Aaron Spelling and in 1979 sold the series to ABC in the wake of the 'Who Shot J.R.?' phenomenon. Writing about the rich, Esther explained, "We are dramatists constantly looking for conflict in the characters. Unpredictability is the key. We do things the audience doesn’t expect. If you’re reality-bound, you’ll have problems with this kind of writing."
Esther graduated from the University of Southern California in 1954 with honors in comparative literature. Soon after she met Richard Shapiro at a postgraduate writing class at UCLA. Esther made known, "My grandmother in Turkey wore a veil and walked six steps behind her husband … My mother came to America alone at 15, not knowing anyone. And 11 years ago (in 1974) I met my first network executive."
In a scene on 'The Reunion' mini-series in 1991, Miles said to Adam and Kirby as they came up with a plan to rescue Jeff from the consortium, "Remember what the Greek use to get inside the wall of the City of Troy?" In 415BC, Zeus' daughter, Palias Athena, allegedly burned down the City of Troy, as described by Homer in 'The Iliad'. Zeus' son Apollo, who was the god of the sun assisted Poseidon (the Greek god of the sea or the Roman Neptune) built the walls around the City of Troy. The walls were built from partly rock and partly sun-baked brick following the flood ordered by Zeus.
Apollo who had a twin sister Artemis (or Diana) was known for his battle with the python reptile in the region of Delphi. Bricks were first made, according to the bible, after the flood triggered by Zeus when Noah discovered Shinar and began building the Tower of Babel, comprised 2,286 feet in circumference. Esther had emphasized, "'Dynasty' isn't 'Roots' or 'Masada.'" In the first season, Esther and Richard Shapiro discovered much of the 'Dynasty' demographic comprised middle-class males.
"When I wonder if something is too outrageous, I look at people we all know, and it seems pale. We're using the same serial form Dickens used in 'Nicholas Nickleby'. It's basic Shakespeare and 'I, Claudius,' where the Romans would poison each other and tell each other off. Audiences love it. They often can’t say the things they want. It’s a fantasy kind of expression.
"We got a letter from one woman who said her husband has left her, life is horrible, and she has nothing to live for, except her paycheck and 'Dynasty'. I'd like to do 13 more episodes (than the normal network order of 22 episodes). Six months (between April and October) without 'Dynasty' is hard on our audience. We have longer scenes than normal prime-time programs because we're dealing with so much emotion. Every scene should have conflict for good drama.
"Daytime serials are different. They have so much time that all the characters can react to every situation. They can converse over coffee and mull things over. We have 48 minutes, and we like to tell a lot of stories. 'Dynasty' is really about a Roman family which is a rich den of vipers, who vie for power and money and end up doing each other in.
"'I, Claudius', told the story of Roman kings and people in power. We don’t have kings, but we do have oil tycoons and they are people whose lives affect the rest of us. These are people who do outrageous things. You have families fighting for power and love. You can get terrific drama from that. Conflict in a family is much more dramatic than conflict between strangers. Blake Carrington is a 19th-century man. If only his family would do what he wants everything would be all right. So, 'I, Claudius' is the framework.
"When you're a writer you're writing your fantasies. You've got your little doll house. (When Krystle married Blake Carrington), she moved from nothing to $7000-a-month electric bills. She has to cope with money, a new problem for her. Writing about that takes a fantasy perspective. Older actors have back stories. They're older, they’ve lived, so they can have an exciting past that we can explore. You bring people together and see how they fit. Ali (MacGraw’s) an actress whose work I like. I'd love for (Rock Hudson ) to stay or do a related series."
Mike Pollock told the press in April 1983, "We are working on the bible for next season (1983-84) already. I know where I'd like things to go, and sure I have some idea, but the details haven't been worked out. And one thing you don’t do with a plot is paint yourself into a corner." In 1976, the Pollocks brought in 14-year-old Genie Francis to play 16-year-old Laura on the daytime drama, 'General Hospital'. At the start of the 1982-83 season, Genie spoke to the press, "I don't know how that (rumor) really got out, but I do know they (the 'Dynasty' producers) were interested in me for the part of Sammy Jo. However, 'General Hospital' wouldn't let me out in time to do it." The role eventually went to Heather Locklear.
John Forsythe conceded Blake Carrington was "the kind of part I don't think I would have gotten if I hadn't played the infamous Judge Fleming in 'And Justice For All.'" John also described Blake as more than a little Nixonion, "Blake is a self-made man who’s built this gigantic empire, and since he’s getting older, he's slightly wary of the younger men around him. He's the quintessential American business tycoon – ruthless, manipulative, and demonic within that framework.
"And yet loving at home. A very contradictory fellow. I hate to go out on a limb, but I think the series will put some real distinction in the nighttime soap operas. A lot of care and devotion are going into the writing and acting. I think there is a place on the air for different variations of an 'art form'. I have no illusions about it being another 'Upstairs, Downstairs' or maybe 'Forsythe Saga', but I think 'Dynasty' can be a high-ranking series of distinction – with, of course, an eye to the commercial market." At the time, Esther Shapiro contributed her success to "living in this blessed time in this blessed place."