Don't laugh, but in the summer of 1981, I lived for three things: the birth of MTV, the Royal wedding and the identity of the bitch in the big hat who stormed Blake's murder trial at the end of Dynasty's first season.

As you can probably tell, I wasn't a normal kid. Didn't even climb a tree until I had to outrun the cops in high school. Don't ask, don't tell, OK?

Anyway, for the kiddies among us, MTV used to show things called music videos and had veejays with gigantic hair. Now, not so much. Chuck and Di? Please, if I never hear "Candle in the Wind" again, Elton John would still owe me. And the hat ho? Let's just thank the TV gods that some people have stood the test of time. Even if this one did make me wait until November for the new season to begin.

Alexis Morell Carrington Colby Dexter Rowan, I love you.

And not in the "being her for Halloween" way. More like, "I love you for being the first character to show me how to throw a drink in someone's face the right way." Or "I love you for thinking a mink-fringed gold lame wrap is appropriate for an engagement party." Even better, "I love you for being so completely watchable on DVD."

In fact, the entire second season of Dynasty is a joy to re-behold and not just because it's the year Joan Collins kicked things into high gear. It also totally makes up for the first season's shortened run of 15 sort of slow-moving episodes and validates those of us who chose Denver-Carrington over Ewing Oil. Don't get me wrong, Dallas rocked, too, but come on. Those people wore cowboy boots with tuxes. I get a rash just writing that sentence.

No, the glamour here is slathered on so thick, you can almost smell the Forever Krystle coming off this godsend for fans hankering for the days when primetime soaps didn't need dead narrators, McSteamy surgeons or America Ferrera to keep them hooked. And unlike some shows that think "continuing drama" means "dragging things on until we're cross-eyed," life happens quickly around the Carrington compound. Blake's manslaughter sentence is barely commuted before the wretched Claudia is trying off herself, Fallon's paternity is being questioned and James Farentino is creeping everyone out as crazy-eyed shrink Nick Toscanni. Then of course, there is the hypnotic power of Linda Evans' immovable coif, like a golden curtain split by her eternally pained visage. How that woman and poor man's Patrick Duffy, John James, maintained their blow-dried styles for the show's entire run is obviously not for mortals to figure out.

But hands-down, the biggest thrill here- aside from the first Alexis-Krystle smackdown in the Carrington guesthouse ("If you want a rematch, just whistleif you can!"&mdas;his the debut of Heather Locklear as Krystle's white-trash niece, Sammy Jo Dean. Armed with the worst Southern accent this side of Amy Locane in the first season of Melrose Place, Aaron Spelling's lucky charm shows up early and leaves little to the imagination in an array of short-shorts that would make your camel-toes curl. Granted, it's also a star-making turn, with those winged tresses and wanton looks at sometimes-gay husband Steven that gave us our first taste of the vixen who would become Amanda Woodward. And man, is it sweet! Too bad Alexis bribes "that little tramp" to skedaddle after a dozen episodes or so, because that knocked La Locklear out of the action until Sammy Jo pops back up in the middle season 3, drenched in even more '80s blue-eyeshadowy hotness.

As with most primetime soaps on DVD, this set is best consumed over the course of several nights (and nightcaps, for anyone who indulges). With all the business going down, it's easy to be overwhelmed by Blake's blindness, Krystle's miscarriage, Fallon's fling with creepy shrink guy and designer Nolan Miller's miracle-gro shoulder pads. I swear, by the time Alexis literally schtups Cecil Colby into cardiac arrest in the legendary finale, half the men have been shot at, cheated on or blown up, while the women all resemble the Drag Queen Football League.

And I wouldn't have it any other way. Because let's face it, some shows have to go over-the-top. It's the only place with enough room for all the big hats.

Next week: When Emmy winners attack! Oh, and speaking of Emmys, start saving your pennies, folks


Exclusively from HBO Video on October 23, 2007

Includes the following special features:
"Making Cleaver," an exclusive sneak-peek at the behind-the-scenes making of the film that Christopher pitched in Hollywood
"Music of The Sopranos" a retrospective look at the final season and the music that helped shape it
Four audio commentaries from cast members Episode 1: Steven Schirripa, Episode 3: Dominic Chianese, Episode 7: Robert Iler, Episode 8: Steven Van Zandt