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Do You Consider Dallas To Be Art?

Discussion in 'Dallas - The Original Series' started by Kenny Coyote, Sep 10, 2019.

  1. Kenny Coyote

    Kenny Coyote Soap Chat Dream Maker EXP: 12 Years

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    Public taste is like a pendulum moving from one extreme to the other. It's feast or famine. Eventually overexposure of one extreme leads to burnout and adoption of the opposite extreme. The next trend will likely be one where all the shows are utopian.
     
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  2. Lastkidpicked

    Lastkidpicked Soap Chat Well-Known Member EXP: 11 Years

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    Good point, and we can see this pendulum swing during the Dallas run.

    We forget now, but the original miniseries was decidedly darker. It has a Shakespearean tragedy to it. The original Jock was hinted to have built his empire by bankrupting his competition through dirty deeds.
    J.R. was a ruthless businessman by necessity. He had to live up to Jock's expectations (and never quite could). You actually felt sorry for J.R. in the early episodes, "Well, Daddy. I just thought one time you would have been proud of me."

    Then, as our national mood lifted from the morass of the 70's, the tone of the show lifted as well.
    J.R. became the villain that we often rooted for. Or at least tuned in to watch.
    Ray became a Ewing, and a millionaire. Donna bought an oil field and named it Krebbs One. Bobby showed he could run Ewing Oil. There was even humorous patter between sworn enemies:

    Cliff: Well, J.R. I've got great news for you.
    J.R.: Oh, you've been diagnosed with a fatal disease?

    HA! That magnificent bastard.

    And there were storylines that were a little outlandish. And we had fun with them. And we all spent one memorable summer wondering, "Who shot J.R.?"

    It was fun, and light hearted. The series mirrored that time in world events.

    Then, as the end of the series approached, things moved darker once more, reflecting the dimming view toward large companies. The Exxon Valdez was traveling in the most pristine, deep blue water you can imagine inside of Prince William Sound. The oil tanker struck a reef spilling ten million gallons of oil. (37,000 metric tonnes for our European members here). People who fished all their lives, who never dealt with Exxon, had their livelihoods ruined.

    Big corporations were expanding, and putting mom and pop shops out of business. Executives were laying off workers at the same time they were handing each other huge bonuses.

    We stopped rooting for the magnificent bastards who walked all over people.

    And the end of the series reflected this. The Shakespearean tragedy came full circle, with J.R. ending the series all alone, with a bottle of bourbon in one hand and a gun in the other.
     
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  3. Kenny Coyote

    Kenny Coyote Soap Chat Dream Maker EXP: 12 Years

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    Nice post Lastkid!

    We all on some level realize how art imitates life, but you really did a great job of describing just how much art was imitating life, regarding Dallas.

    It was a nice bit of synchronicity that the end of Dallas came in 1991 - the year that the Soviet Union collapsed. The Cold War and along with it, the threat of nuclear armageddon, ended without a single without a single bomb needing to be dropped. We didn't need to use force. Instead, in true Dallas fashion, we used money. The Soviets went bankrupt trying to keep up with us in the arms race, which was made possible by us having the superior economic system - capitalism.
     
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  4. Jimmy Todd

    Jimmy Todd Soap Chat Well-Known Member EXP: 9 Months

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    It's fascinating how @Lastkidpicked and @Kenny Coyote drew parallels between the tone of "Dallas" and what was happening in America at the time. Very clever observations!
    I read an article by Stephen King on his opinion on why certain things in popular culture catch the public's interest. According to him, evil or scary children, especially girls(The Exorcist, Carrie, The Omen, etc) were popular in the U.S. during the late 60's and the 70's because they reflected an unconcious fear or unease with the youth and feminist movements. In Germany, he believed zombie movies were more popular at the same time because they reflected a subconscious fear of being haunted by the past.
    The accuracy of Mr. King's theory is, of course, open to debate. However, the subject of art reflecting life, life reflecting art, or various degrees of both, is intriguing.
     
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2019
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  5. Kenny Coyote

    Kenny Coyote Soap Chat Dream Maker EXP: 12 Years

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    I don't know about the accuracy of it, but it is intriguing.

    I've read a lot of his books. I think The Stand was his best novel. It was amazing. What an intriguing scenario! To have to basically rebuild society. I think it would make for a great TV series. Not necessarily directly based on the novel like the TV mini-series was, but a series that would depict people in that situation of having to completely start over in rebuilding society and what choices would they make.
     
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  6. Jimmy Todd

    Jimmy Todd Soap Chat Well-Known Member EXP: 9 Months

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    Makes one wonder how many of us could do it, just as the battle for Ewing Oil makes one wonder if we ourselves would
    have behaved differently from Bobby. I believe you brought up that very interesting point.
     
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2019
  7. J. R.'s Piece

    J. R.'s Piece Soap Chat TV Fanatic EXP: 13 Years

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    I like seeing thugs/villains as the actual protagonists because you can have them behave more unpredictably. They can do the dark villainy stuff but you can drop them into the really heavy emotional drama and see how they react. Which is often in more complex ways. A character may have a seemingly good relationship with them but they might flip, beat them up or lock them up for a while. Emmett J. Scanlan described his multi-award-winning manipulative soap character, Brendan Brady, as, “I don't think he is either good or bad. Brendan's a man who defines his own moral code and principles, and lives with the consequences. He's the type of dude that will hit you as quick as look at you, but never touch a girl. His principles may be different to yours or mine but he's not good or bad, he's just... Brendan." And “I have never had the opportunity to play somebody as complex and as damaged as Brendan. He is without doubt a sociopathic, self-loathing, homophobic gay man and that in itself is a fascinating attraction for any actor to play. I think any actor would love a challenge, when you're doing a role if it pushes your boundaries and takes you out of yourself and allows you to experience different things. I think that's great. So coming up to do the part was exciting for me."

    And multiple murderer Warren Fox on Hollyoaks is capable of pure heartbreaking honesty, which he sometimes delivers when lying his face off in the midst of his latest manipulation. He recently asked his ex, Sienna Blake, (a devious psychopath herself who had a serial-killing daughter by her own twin brother, who she later kept locked up and tried to be his girlfriend. The Coronation Street producer recently named her as one of three characters from other soaps he would like to have causing trouble on Coronation Street along with Cain Dingle and Phil Mitchell) to help save their son’s life, not telling her that their son, who he grabbed from her 20 months ago and she hasn’t seen since, was actually in the same hospital.


    Yet essentially, he is a creature driven by his heart, most recently taking risks to save his two year old son (at the centre of the stolen babies storyline that has been running ever since 2017) with a bone marrow transplant. But also he is a scheming, former drug-dealing villainous bad boy and murdering thug, who puts his own needs above everyone else’s. And he can give great comedic moments, like laughing in a balaclava in the mirror at the thought of kidnapping and beating up Duncan James from Blue and at the other end of the scale being visibly sulky at not being able to beat up Duncan James from Blue. But he really wants to finds love, a good woman, to settle down and be a good dad. And sometimes he is really very caring, protective and a solid support for those closest to him. For a while. Although his relationships turn toxic because he is bad and causes chaos wherever he goes. Like the time he suffocated his pregnant fiancée on their wedding day and pretended that she jilted him. Which was after she found out that he murdered her husband and had an affair with their wedding planner and so she tried to murder him but underestimated his devious nature. He is a father of three. One is a priest, who is becoming a vicar, who gave his own aunt the drugs overdose that killed her, slept with his father’s psycho ex (mother of his half-siblings) and is currently engaged to the cousin of his father’s most recent murder victim. And he wants his dad to turn his back on the criminal stuff. Which they both want but is unlikely to happen.
     
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  8. Kenny Coyote

    Kenny Coyote Soap Chat Dream Maker EXP: 12 Years

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    Nice post! I appreciate the effort you put into it. I also find those types of characters interesting, sometimes even as the protagonist.

    A distinction needs to be made though, between a character being entertaining and a character actually being likable. They aren't always the same thing. I've seen people say they liked Katherine when what I think they really meant they found her entertaining or interesting. I doubt they were really pulling for Katherine when she tried to murder Bobby. I doubt they were thinking: "Oh, what a great thing she's doing! I hope she succeeds in killing Bobby and gets away with it!"! Now here on Soapchat, will there be a few people who will say that's how they felt about Katherine? Nothing would surprise me at this point. People who would actually like Katherine would be an exception to the rule - they wouldn't be representative of the majority of the audience.

    A likable character is someone the audience pulls for, who the audience wants to see succeed because they believe in what that character is doing. The audience finds the actions of that character admirable. Add to that character an engaging, interesting personality with a lot of charisma, and you have the potential for an incredibly well liked character. That character is a person who if the person existed in real life, the audience would want to be friends with that person because of all the wonderful qualities the character has.
     
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2020
  9. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Mega Star EXP: 18 Years

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    It's not that she was a particular favourite of mine, but I remember genuinely rooting for Katherine, not when she was trying to kill Bobby, but when she was trying to win him for herself. I just really wanted to see what would happen if they got married and she moved onto Southfork.

    I liked pretty much all the main characters on Dallas. The idea of admiring them has never really occurred to me. Whom I rooted for to succeed constantly fluctuated, sometimes from moment to moment, depending on what was happening. I didn't particularly want any of them to be happy, at least not in the long term. I really wanted Sue Ellen to find JR and Holly in bed --- I remember gnawing on the arm of the sofa with excitement when she climbed those stairs - not because I hated her and wanted her to be unhappy, and not because I loved her and wanted her to be free of JR, but because I knew all hell would break loose if she did.

    I absolutely love watching the Ewings, but I can't imagine being friends with any of them. I've got nothing in common with them. Jock was a brilliant character, but I'm pretty sure I'd be beneath his contempt. Which is fine by me, really. I kind of wouldn't want it any other way. I really liked Donna's no-nonsense attitude and the way she stuck to her guns, but I've always had the feeling she would absolutely loathe me (a bit like she did Mickey when she first met him).

    A slight deviation, but the same principle: Doctor Who's great, the character of the Doctor is great - heroic, eccentric, funny, etc. I've always loved him/her, except when he was played by a couple of terrible actors in the '80s who just make me swear at the TV, "Stop being so ****ing crap!" The other week, there was a minor hoo-ha on Twitter because the Doctor did something that could be interpreted as racist. Maybe it was, maybe it wasn't. I don't mind either way. It makes the character more ambivalent, more complicated, more flawed, more interesting. I don't like the Doctor or the show any less as a result. It's fiction.
     
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2020
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  10. Kenny Coyote

    Kenny Coyote Soap Chat Dream Maker EXP: 12 Years

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    That's a valid viewpoint. I enjoy hearing about the ways different people see things. I'm glad we've got a variety of people with different views here. It's so much more interesting that way than if we all saw things the same way. We wouldn't have these interesting exchanges of ideas because there wouldn't be anything to exchange except: Right, yes, of course, I know that, etc.

    If I understood you correctly, you don't particularly care about what happens to whom in Dallas as long as it makes a fascinating story. That's probably simplifying it, but is that more or less it, in a nutshell?

    Regarding this: "The idea of admiring them has never really occurred to me", I have to wonder if you don't admire any of them, do you ever admire them at certain times, for particular things they did? Do you ever see a Dallas character do something and think: "I'd hope I'd have the guts to do that if I were in that situation" or "Wow, what a great work ethic; he's so committed to accomplishing his goals and isn't afraid to put int the hard work" or anything along those lines?
     
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  11. Mel O'Drama

    Mel O'Drama Super Moderator EXP: 11 Years Staff Member

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    I've thought about this from time to time (about characters from a number of shows) and reached the same conclusion. There aren't that many I could imagine clicking with in any significant way. Which is perhaps part of the reason they're so fascinating to watch.



    By any chance, did you make a phone call to Five Star around that time?
     
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  12. Willie Oleson

    Willie Oleson SoapLand Battles Moderator EXP: 17 Years

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    I'm not sure if it's possible to rephrase all these feelings and opinions into one simplified statement. Or that it should?
    Well it really is the writer's decision, isn't it? I can admire clever writing or writing/production that shows a dedication to the cause, but I wouldn't judge the characters out of their fictional context.

    As for Katherine, I could root for her the same way I could root for JR and still hate them for what they're doing.
    It's seeing these characters clutching at straws (and resort to dastardly things), I find it almost impossible not to appreciate their efforts. But that's not what happened in every storyline, sometimes they were downright awful just because, so you can't rephrase that into one neat statement.
     
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  13. Kenny Coyote

    Kenny Coyote Soap Chat Dream Maker EXP: 12 Years

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    If I can't relate to at least one of the main characters in a show, then I have no desire to watch. If I don't like anybody, what do I care what happens to them? It's hard to like someone I can't relate to at all. In Dallas, I can only relate to the characters some, my favorite characters in it have at least some elements that I relate to.

    Even JR, as hard as it is to relate to him in a lot of ways, he's a good father, alright, there's something. He's a hard worker. His work ethic is admirable and very relatable. He's got that drive to be the best at what he does, he values competency and efficacy. Excellent. I'm the same way.

    His morality is not even a little relatable to me, but he has this other qualities, so it's enough.



    I acknowledged I was simplifying it by saying that if I understood him correctly he didn't particularly care about what happens to whom in Dallas as long as it makes a fascinating story.

    He said he likes them, yet doesn't want them to be happy for long. Realize that to me, that's a foreign concept. I want people I like in a movie or show to be happy, so I'm trying to at least get the gist of how he thinks about it. I may not ever understand every nuance of how he looks at it, but I'm asking him I understand the essence of what his reason for watching is. I don't think that's a bad thing, do you?

    Did you interpret his post in a different way?

    I think James will tell me if I misinterpreted him. I hope so!
     
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2020
  14. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Mega Star EXP: 18 Years

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    It's not that I don't care -- that makes it sound like I'm indifferent -- but I'm not wedded to a particular outcome.

    No, never.

    Yes. I mean, I can empathise with them, but I wouldn't wanna be stuck in a lift with any of them.

    Ha! Shh ...

    Yes, having conflicting reactions at the same time -- that's always fun.
     
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  15. Kenny Coyote

    Kenny Coyote Soap Chat Dream Maker EXP: 12 Years

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    When I was watching Dallas as it originally aired, I was in my teems and early twenties, so back then as single, unmarried guy, I would have loved to have been stuck in a lift with April. Not necessarily stuck in a lift, but hanging out with her someplace a little nicer than a lift, sure! I would have loved that!

    I realize the demographics of our forum being what they are, a lot of us are married now, or living with someone, but think back to when you were single. Is there really even one guy here who didn't find any of the women in Dallas attractive? Or for the women, isn't there at least one man in Dallas you would have liked to have spent some time with back when you were single?
     
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2020
  16. Willie Oleson

    Willie Oleson SoapLand Battles Moderator EXP: 17 Years

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    I was going to say: Nicolette Sheridan, but she's a 6 on the Abby scale and I'm only a 2. I'll take the stairs!
     
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  17. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Mega Star EXP: 18 Years

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    Well, Knots is a whole other deal - I think even a soulless tycoon like Greg would have been fun to hang out with once in a while!
     
  18. Willie Oleson

    Willie Oleson SoapLand Battles Moderator EXP: 17 Years

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    Speaking of Knots, Jill Bennett is a perfect example of "rooting for/against" at the same time, because the thrill of it is almost getting there. And she needs to succeed to get to that point.
    I think that a soap needs those moments too, or at least something that needs to be pursued. And indeed this appears to be the standard introduction for all the soaps.
    Pretty people arrive in This Or That Place to start a new, pretty happy life. It's a lovely picture, but without the drama you don't have a soap.
     
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  19. Kenny Coyote

    Kenny Coyote Soap Chat Dream Maker EXP: 12 Years

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    Sure, you need drama for a drama, but the there don't have to be all the troubled marriages we saw in Dallas. One of my favorite dramas - Friday Night Lights - featured the most realistic married couple I've seen on a TV drama. Eric and Tammi Taylor are a happily married couple as well as being an unusually realistic married couple for any TV show. They had arguments, like any couple does, but in general they were extremely happy being married to each other. There is still plenty of drama in Friday Night Lights but it comes from the adversity each of them face in their careers, as well as from storylines involving other characters. It's not a soap - its just a good drama. Has anyone else here seen it?
     
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2020
  20. Kenny Coyote

    Kenny Coyote Soap Chat Dream Maker EXP: 12 Years

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    Why would you like people you don't find admirable?
     

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