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DALLAS: what made it stand out above the other soaps?

Discussion in 'Dallas - The Original Series' started by StrangerDynastyTreeNat89, Aug 14, 2017.

  1. StrangerDynastyTreeNat89

    StrangerDynastyTreeNat89 Soap Chat Well-Known Member

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    I feel there has been alot of negativity aimed at our favourite Texan serial lately, I know we need constructive criticism, but lets spread the love and take a break from, what shoulda, woulda and coulda happened had, there been no dream, of had Pam stayed etc

    What made DALLAS so special, that nearly forty years later, we still love it and has millions of fans around the world?

    For me what made DALLAS great was the family relationships, we got to see that nearly every Ewing or fringe member of that family have some relationship with one another, heck I know they didn't share a scene together (though I cannot recall) but you could even believe that Lucy was the cousin to Jack and Jamie
    Much more believable than on DYNASTY where we get one paltry scene between Fallon and Amanda and they're supposed to be sisters who were in the DYNASTY/COLBYVERSE at the same time!

    Another thing was how even though JR was the shows undisputed villain, we saw that there were worse characters who made JR look like and angel in comparison, we saw his vulnerabilities, we saw him alone, yet we could also see him intimidate his enemies for the love of his family, he was multi-dimensional.
     
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  2. Barbara Fan
    Sweettooth

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    The ensemble casting, the scripts, storylines, the acting by majority of the cast in the early days
    #
    It was different from any other soap in 1978, different from the goody two shoes Waltons and Little House on the Prairie

    it was big, bold and different to any UK soap too
     
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  3. Willie Oleson
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    Willie Oleson drilling for soap

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    More detailed business storylines, or at least the details in the scripts about the oil industry.
     
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  4. Sarah

    Sarah Super Moderator Staff Member Original Member Since 1998

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    @Barbara Fan was speaking about Howard Lakin in another thread and found this really good article (thanks to Dallas Decoder) where he is asked this specific question:

    Getting back to “Dallas:” The series has now spanned several decades. What do you think is the secret of its enduring appeal?

    "Live long enough and you can end up literally watching hundreds and hundreds of television series, many absolutely brilliant, most the usual re-mix or formula. “Dallas” is much more saga than series. Its narrative is expansive, and larger than life and convoluted in a good way. From my point of view, what makes it endure is also what makes it iconic. I mean, despite its oversized Texas storytelling, anti-heroic bluster and Dickensian cast of characters, there is still so much to care about on a human level and a whole lot of universality in how it deals with complex family love, family business and family conflict. That’s my take on it anyway."
     
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  5. Kenny Coyote

    Kenny Coyote Soap Chat Active Member

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    Dallas was wonderful because it showed the inner relationships of a very interesting family and because they lived together on a huge ranch, there was a tremendous amount of interaction compared with the typical American family. It showed 3 generations - Jock and Ellie, their sons, and then Lucy, their grand-daughter. I loved their conversations at cocktail hour and at the dinner table.

    Dallas always had feuds, most notable the Barnes-Ewing feud and feuds are something missing from most TV dramas but they shouldn't be so rare in TV dramas because feuds are exciting! Feuds keep sports fans on the edge of their seats, and the people who created Dallas were smart enough to bring feuds to a prime time TV drama.

    The place they took the feuds to - the independent oil industry in Texas was brilliant because it's such an exciting industry! The conflict between the Ewings and either Cliff Barnes or Weststar which primarily took place in oil deals and transactions were very exciting because even though it's a science, there's also still a big element of luck in the oil industry - a little like gambling. My favorite part of all was seeing a great Ewing Oil plan come together at the expense of Cliff Barnes, Weststar, or anyone else. One of my favorites was when JR was courting Sue Ellen to try to remarry her and also get his little boy back at Southfork. So he had to get rid of the threat of Cliff Barnes and he did it brilliantly by counting on Cliff's greed to cause him to embezzle from his mother's company. JR knew his enemies very well which made him very effective in dealing with them. Another brilliant deal JR made, one of the absolute highlights of all of Dallas was "J.R. Ewing Gas"! What a brilliant way to try to win the contest for Ewing Oil. Seeing JR as a hero of the working class and even being talked about as a potential candidate for a high political office in the federal government was incredibly entertaining.

    What I liked best of all is how the Ewings would join together whenever there was a threat from outsiders. Seeing then brothers work together to accomplish something crucial such as shooting B.D. Calhoun always made me feel very happy, even inspired. Dallas was the greatest TV show there has ever been or ever will be!
     
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2017
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  6. Victoriafan3

    Victoriafan3 Soap Chat Active Member

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    She Was the reason I started watching. She was the reason I stopped watching. VICTORIA PRINCIPAL. Enjoyed most of the show during that time as well as it turned out ;-)
     
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  7. Swami

    Swami Soap Chat Star

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    Certainly from season 1 to 8 & 10, the strength of the cast, crew and writing was from the very top drawer. When established cast members departed and poor replacements joined, the decline in quality showed markedly.

    Swami
     
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  8. StrangerDynastyTreeNat89

    StrangerDynastyTreeNat89 Soap Chat Well-Known Member

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    DALLAS didn't feel the need to compete with other series at the time, while I do like KNOTS I often found it pretentious, especially post 1985-86 tv season, DALLAS never took itself seriously, yet it's approach to its narrative, characters, story arcs etc etc, for me set the tone for alot of the shows that came along from.the early 90s onwards without it realising it was setting the tone, it was a show that both men and women could enjoy, which for its time was rare.
     
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  9. Snarky's Ghost

    Snarky's Ghost Soap Chat Star

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    I always like comparing the four wealth-based nighttime soaps of the '80s (it was almost my favorite genre, which is why I found their infamous slide mid-way through so painful and confounding) which DALLAS inspired.

    There were times that all four of the shows DALLAS, KNOTS LANDING, FALCON CREST and even DYNASTY were as good -- or even better -- than each other. And that seems to do with who was producing and writing them at any given time.

    All four shows were extremely well cast. And without good casting, you've got nothing but a (possibly good) script and concept.

    What made DALLAS the king of the hill? Firstly, the oil business and the sheer power of it makes for a great backdrop. Also, there had been no hit nighttime serial since then-forgotten PEYTON PLACE until DALLAS.

    And then there's the chancrid, ugly association everyone had around the world with the very word "Dallas" -- whenever you saw the name of city anywhere in print, it was like a six letter epithet. Because of the murder of JFK. Tens of thousands of people literally moved from the Dallas/FtWorth area in the fifteen years between 1963 and 1978 due the association -- and the Dallas Cowboys football team didn't change the global view of it.... Only this outrageous TV series about, perhaps ironically, a corrupt Texas oil family called "DALLAS" changed the image of the city; after 'Who Shot JR?' (an unprecedented worldwide cliffhanger which was resolved 17 years almost to the day that that earlier, real life Dallas shooting happened) by the early-'80s, the city had become an exciting, Stetson-clad metropolis where JR and his family lived at Southfork Ranch with their wild barbecues and their pool fights and their drinks before dinner.

    It's crazy, really.

    But that's one of the reasons I like the 1978 "mini-series" with its drab, wintry vibe. Even the very first frame of the scene of Pam driving to meet her daddy, "Digger", in some shabby Houston Street pub, has the infamous Texas Schoolbook Depository clearly in the background, the "Hertz" sign, not removed for another year, still atop it like a raven or some gargoyle hovering. It was too quick for most viewers to spot it even then, but in retrospect, it adds to the history of the thing somehow.

    But the first several episodes hinted, deliberately or not, at vile, sordid secrets -- secrets buried not so far in the past at the time -- conveniently ignored with the distraction of contemporary romantic issues and little family imbroglios. It's like this huge, dark silence in the background nobody's acknowledging. The old rivalries of the patriarchs spelled out in its earliest version the closest we get to ever looking under the Dallas rock and finding what might be there.

    Anyway, Jacobs, Katzman, Paulsen and others also knew what to do with the concept, and how to extend it and find various layers to exploit.

    And obviously at the center of it was Larry Hagman's interpretation of J.R. Ewing. An intelligent and sometimes brilliant actor, Hagman played all imaginable sides of this nasty, snickering sociopathically-inclined oil man, turning J.R. into a legend in his own time and one of the great villains in the annals of fiction.

    Which is why Donna Reed's Mis-Ellie, the dream resolution, and the campy last two or three seasons felt like such a betrayal. Or, as Susan Howard once phrased it, "the audience abused again."

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2017
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  10. Via The Void

    Via The Void Soap Chat Active Member

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    For me what made the show stand out was the Barnes Ewing feud amongst it's key characters. Yes the show was very well cast & that's partly why it had a good innings on television. Ultimately for me it is the feud between JR & Pam & Cliff, with the rest of the family taking sides which makes the show very watchable & entertaining.

    Whilst I watched the show from beginning to end on it's original terrestrial airing on BBC1 here in the United Kingdom, when watching my boxsets of the show I tend to stop at season ten simply because of the departure of one of the show's core cast members. There's no surprise for anyone who knows & loves this show, that when this cast member left the show Dallas was never quite the same again.

    I always hoped that Victoria would come back to the show but kudos to her for moving on & doing other things with her life.

    So I suppose for me it was the writing which made it stand out over & above the other American soaps. I have to mention the theme music, Jerrold Immel's utterly delightful signature tune has been a big part of my life. I love it & always will. The title sequence too gets an honourable mention as well because they are just as iconic as the BBC's Doctor Who series for the exact same reason. They make you sit up & get ready to watch your favourite show the minute you hear the theme tune & see the opening credits.

    Lastly I want to pay tribute to all the main cast members of the show, in particularly those no longer with us (in alphabetical order), Barbara Bel Geddes, Jim Davis, Larry Hagman & Howard Keel. Donna Reed too, it wasn't her fault that her casting didn't work out & she was quickly replaced by Barbara again. She shouldn't have been cast in the first place. Likewise Patrick Duffy shouldn't have left either, as it was his return which ultimately sealed the shows fate.

    Rest In Peace Dallas 1978 - 1991 :mall:
     
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  11. pete lashmar

    pete lashmar Soap Chat Active Member

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    Fantastic characters who grew as the series went on - there was far more character development in Dallas than in any other series I can remember.

    Fantastic scripts & storytelling which took us on a roller coaster ride week after week year after year.

    A high end multi million dollar business setting, who knew we'd all understand the oil industry so well...they didn't take the audience for fools (for the majority of the time).

    Fantastic character interaction, wonderful putdowns, set-ups and visits to the pool.

    Glamour, money, power...but with all the problems and troubles that the audience could totally relate to.

    A man that we LOVE to hate.

    The theme, the titles...TV gold.

    All in all TV dynamite.
     
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  12. Via The Void

    Via The Void Soap Chat Active Member

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    And it's because of all that that this television series will never ever be forgotten.

    The series may have ended back in 1991 but it's still inside all of us in our hearts as the best American soap opera of all time. :kiss:
     
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  13. Rove

    Rove Soap Chat Addict

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    I'll add the Dallas Theme is the penultimate TV Theme of all time. It's instantly recognizable and perfectly suits the city of Dallas. Big and brassy.
     
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  14. Rove

    Rove Soap Chat Addict

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    That quote from Howard Lakin perfectly sums my view of Dallas. It also explains why I watch little television today. Where are those TV Executives and their bold decision making. I'm talking about commercial television, not cable, satellite or streaming services. Where is that event television so sorely lacking in today's viewing landscape?

    From its opening theme/credits, Dallas proved that despite the story revolving around an oil rich Texan family the viewer could relate, when we shouldn't. It proves how an excellent cast, scripts, producers, directors, cinematography (special mention to Bradford May) can elevate a TV Series to something extraordinary. I miss it.
     
  15. Snarky's Ghost

    Snarky's Ghost Soap Chat Star

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    TSBD is also visible in the background when Pam runs out of the bar to get back in her car. And of course she and Cliff are right in front of it a year later when she assures him she'll tell Bobby about the neurofibromatosis.

    "Penultimate" means next to the last... So you have one you like even better? ;)

    I just wish Lakin was a better writer.

    And yet Katzman hated May's gorgeous S7 camera work, if that tells you anything about Uncle Lenny's excessively anti-art mindset.
     
  16. lbf522

    lbf522 Soap Chat Member

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    I can't add what has not been said. I loved the theme song. It was great. Shame shows don't do them anymore.
     
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  17. Rove

    Rove Soap Chat Addict

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    Someone was actually reading. My Number 1 TV Theme of all time? Doctor Who!
     
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  18. pete lashmar

    pete lashmar Soap Chat Active Member

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    And, like Dallas, there are many versions to pick from - something for everyone & some (like Season 13) that are canibilised :loon:
     
  19. Rove

    Rove Soap Chat Addict

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    In my book the Doctor Who theme music just edges out Dallas by ½ point. Doctor Who instantly reminds me of fond memories growing up with two other brothers and a father also fans of the show. All was quiet in our home on Sunday evenings when this was screened. Despite the distance between us now we all still watch the series and on that rare occasion when we gather we discuss and dissect the current series with vigor.
     
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  20. Snarky's Ghost

    Snarky's Ghost Soap Chat Star

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    My family all love DR WHO. But I never see it.
     

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