Rating the New Fall Shows: The CW Gives Us a ‘Dynasty’ Reboot, Plus ‘Black Lightning’

Ken Tucker
Critic-at-Large, Yahoo Entertainment

The CW unveiled its new fall schedule on Thursday. The already hyped addition to its extensive superhero lineup — Black Lightning — has been held back until midseason, but we do have a trailer for it. This leaves the network with a scant two new fall shows, a reworking of Dynasty and the military drama Valor. Let’s look at the trailers and see what we think.

Dynasty is a full-on reworking of the 1980s original. Here, Blake Carrington is played by nighttime-soap vet Grant Show. His newlywed wife is Cristal (Nathalie Kelley), as opposed to Linda Evans’s Crystal. And sliding into the show’s villain slot once occupied by Joan Collins is Elizabeth Gillies (Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll) as Fallon Carrington. As the trailer says, “Welcome to the 1% of the 1%.”

“He’s given me the COO position.” “That job was supposed to be mine!” Riipppp!! Given that Dynasty is being overseen by Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage (Gossip Girl; The OC), I think we can assume this show will have a certain narrative drive, coherence, and clever knowingness. It’s just a matter of seeing whether the new Dynasty can sustain itself with absorbingly amusing plots.

Valor is about some U.S. Army helicopter pilots who went on a top-secret mission to Somalia. A couple of soldiers are taken prisoner, and of the ones who returned, a few seem to be hiding secrets. Add a government official whose ostensible mission is to bring home the POWs but who is suspected of shady behavior and you’ve got one complicated little show.

Featuring dialogue like, “I almost lost you over there — I don’t want you in the cockpit if you’re not ready,” and one soldier looking at another soulfully and saying, “We lied on our debriefs” (twice!), it makes me wonder if Valor is going to be more trouble than it’s worth.

I thought I’d reached my limit on network superhero shows, but I have to say, Black Lightning looks darned intriguing. Cress Williams plays a man who’s a school principal by day and a jolting hero at night.

I like the notion that Black Lightning isn’t a kid, but rather a middle-aged dad. (And one whose daughters are … also superpowered? It’s implied, but now shown, in the trailer.) It also adds to my interest that the character is a black man — there are few interesting black superheroes on TV — and that his initial foe seems not to be a supervillain, but a street gang called The One Hundred. (As opposed to the CW show The 100.) Count me in for this.

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