Forum member of old Tessie sent me this - enjoy https://www.texasmonthly.com/the-cu...y-behind-the-show-that-changed-texas-forever/ This article originally appeared in the October 2018 issue with the headline “ ‘Dallas’ at 40.” Stay tuned for writer Max Marshall’s special podcast on the making of this piece. From 1978 to 1991, the world capital of mergers and acquisitions, greed, champagne consumption, cuckoldry, and plot twists was a midsized horse farm east of Plano. Behind its wood rail fence stood a white frame house that wouldn’t have looked out of place in any luxury cul-de-sac. Three generations of billionaires shared that home, and for a long stretch of the eighties, they were the most popular television family in the country. It’s hard, from the vantage point of our Peak TV era, to grasp why Dallas caused such a global ruckus. In 1980, the show was arguably the hottest pop culture entity in existence; about as many Americans tuned in to find out who shot J. R. as voted for president. But today it looks like a relic of the era “before TV got good.” After families like the Sopranos and the Drapers ushered us into the Golden Age of Television, critics started grading series in terms of filmic scope and literary ambition. By those metrics, the Ewings have been tossed into the bin of trashy, campy pop culture, right next to the cast of The Love Boat. That’s partly because Dallas was, by its own estimation, trashy and campy. The Ewings were more operatically miserable than any other family on TV, they slept around more, and many of them were single-mindedly devoted to ruining other people’s lives for money. Inside their all-American house lurked murder schemes, secret relatives, rare diseases, and an entire season that was all a dream. The show upended our common logic—our moral codes, our sense of cause and effect—with a J. R. Ewing smirk. But to criticize a nighttime soap opera for absurdity is to miss the point. Dallas leaned into its own absurdity, and in the process, it defined an era and transformed its namesake hometown. Two years before Ronald Reagan became president, and nine years before Oliver Stone’s Wall Street accidentally turned “Greed is good” into a mantra, the Ewings already knew what the eighties were about. The Ewings celebrated excess, and they saw the boardroom, ballroom, and bedroom as overlapping war zones. In all three venues, questions of virtue and civility were dissolved in J. R.’s certainty that “All that matters is winning.” Spoken by a lesser actor, that line might have seemed like a pretty bleak way of looking at things. But when Larry Hagman said, “A conscience is like a boat or a car: if you feel you need one, rent it,” it sounded like a jingle. When he ruined some poor fool’s life, hundreds of millions of viewers cheered. While Dallas was selling a new American ideal—not to mention official Dallas aftershave, deodorant, commemorative dishes, 24-karat-gold Southfork belt buckles, and J. R. Ewing Private Stock beer emblazoned with the slogan “If you have to ask how much my beer costs, you probably can’t afford it”—to fans at home and abroad, it was also selling them a new vision of Dallas and Texas. Like the Texans portrayed in Red River and Giant, the characters on Dallas were “full of swagger” and “larger than life.” But they didn’t just rope cattle and strike oil; they orchestrated coups against Communist regimes in Southeast Asia that threatened their oil interests and wore Valentino dresses while they fell off the wagon. The corporate dealmaker may have lacked the romance of the Texas Ranger, but he was, in many ways, an accurate update. By 1978 Texas was 80 percent urban, and its major cities were booming. The Wild West had become the Sunbelt, and the region needed a new myth. Even if Dallas’s interiors were shot in Los Angeles and its geographical specificity was blurry enough that it could’ve just as easily been titled Tulsa, the show turned Texas into the home of the modern western, where, instead of dying in the town square, the villain NetJets into the sunset after unloading shares in a new company called Enron. Forty years later, the city of Dallas has turned toward other mythical figures, like Mark Cuban and Jerry Jones. But when we watch TV today, we’re visiting a house that Dallas helped build. Back in 1978, it was rare for a show’s stories to bleed from one episode to the next, for each season to end with a cliff-hanger, and for scripts to foreground a morally compromised protagonist. In 2018 that’s a standard blueprint for prestige television. In short, for all their resemblance to the cast of The Bold and the Beautiful, the Ewings changed Dallas, changed Texas, changed America, and changed the medium of television. And they still have us in their grip. In compiling this oral history, Texas Monthly wanted to capture all of that. But more than anything, we wanted to hear, from the actors, crew, and creators, what it was like to make this show and how it felt to be at the center of a worldwide mania. After more than 35 hours of interviews, we learned that the stories behind Dallas are nearly as over-the-top as the stories on the screen. INVENTING DALLAS Patrick Duffy played J. R.’s brother Bobby Ewing: Oral histories . . . you know, there’s a great—was it Merle Haggard? I think it was Merle Haggard who had the line, “Everything does change, except what you choose to recall.” David Jacobs is the creator of Dallas and its spin-off, Knots Landing: Here’s the history of the Dallas pitch. I moved to L.A. in 1976 because my ex-wife married an actor and came out here [with our daughter]. I’d never written any TV before; I wrote magazine articles about the arts and books. Made hundreds of dollars a year. The first nine months here, I couldn’t get arrested, but after a rewrite job and a few staff writer things, I had a chance to pitch something to [the production company] Lorimar. I came up with a show about four families living on a cul-de-sac in Southern California, based on Scenes From a Marriage, by [Swedish director] Ingmar Bergman. Yeah, I had high aspirations. David Paulsen was a writer, producer, and director for Dallas and Knots Landing: The whole thing was a family story based around dining room tables. David Jacobs: So [my creative partner] Michael Filerman and I go in and pitch, and they responded, “You know, we want to do this, but we want something glitzier. More of a saga.” So as soon as we left, as we’re driving back, I said, “Well, a saga. That means Texas ranches.” I had driven through Texas once, on a camping trip with my daughter, in 1972.