If Dallas Debuted Now Instead Of In 1978 It Would Still Be Highly Successful

Discussion in 'Dallas - The Original Series' started by Kenny Coyote, Feb 5, 2019.

  1. Kenny Coyote

    Kenny Coyote Soap Chat Well-Known Member

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    There seem to be a lot of people who think that a show like Dallas was only so popular because it didn't have the competition of the types of shows we have on TV today. They say Dallas wouldn't have been successful if it had debuted this year instead of in 1978. I disagree strongly.

    There have been some very good TV shows over the last 10 years or so, basically from the time of Breaking Bad to now. So that's from 2008 to now. That supposedly the era of "peak television." I agree that the quality of shows in that time period was better than in the ten years prior to that, more or less. However, Breaking Bad, for instance, had 5 seasons and 62 episodes. That's approximately 12 hours (minus commercials) per season on average. In the era of Dallas, that's basically a mini-series. In fact, the 1977 miniseries Roots was aired in a period of just over a week. There were 8 episodes for a total of 12 hours (4 episodes were 2 hours and 4 were one hour). The Winds Of War was 14 hours and 40 minutes and aired in 7 episodes.

    So, what they call a "season" today is what we called a miniseries in the era of Dallas! Instead of running one hour a week for 10 or 12 weeks, they used to air 7 or 8 episodes within an 8 or 9 day span. They could still do that today but they think they're fooling people people into thinking it has more content because it takes two months or so to air one of these modern "seasons." Then people are expected to wait ten months for the next "season" and somehow still remember everything perfectly well.

    Dallas debuting today would blow people away with how much content it truly has per season since they are genuine seasons - not a mini-series stretched out over two months. People would be amazed at the intricacy and detail in the character development of Dallas if it were making its debut this year. There literally is nothing on TV today that has the depth of character development that Dallas had. Today's shows are primarily plot driven rather than character driven.

    The way they Dallas would gradually build the intrigue as storylines progress, without feeling compelled to give the audience the "payoff" within just a few weeks would be a breath of fresh air to the populace. People would be amazed at the emotional effect of seeing a storyline unfold over the time that they unfolded on Dallas. Imagine a show that doesn't need gratuitous sex or violence or foul language to accomplish what other shows use all three of those things to try to accomplish and still come up short!

    As for the subject material - it's timeless! No matter how much we may think society progresses and changes, families will never go "out of style." People won't stop having babies. People will always be able to relate to families. They'll also be be able to relate to family owned businesses, and the oil business is still as relevant as ever. I wen to high school in the 1980s and they told us that this century would not be run on oil as the 20th century was. They were wrong. We still go the gas stations to fill up our cars' gas tanks and we still need fuel to heat our homes in the winter. Maybe before the end of the century we won't be using oil, but we certainly are now. The storylines of the competition between oil companies would again be as relevant today as it was in 1978. Our economy is still based on capitalism and competition is what we use to ensure the best products and the best prices for the consumers. Competition is good!

    When companies get to where they have a monopoly on their industry, they're in violation of the anti-trust laws and must be broken up. Otherwise they could charge whatever they wanted to charge the consumers and they would have no choice but to pay it or go without. Apparently some people in the internet giant Amazon have paid the right people a lot of money to leave them alone and not enforce the anti-trust laws. So corruption, another big element of Dallas, is still alive and well.

    Of course sex and marriage are two more big elements of Dallas and again, they are just as relevant today as they were then. If anything, divorce is even more common today than it was then. As for sex appeal, the shows of today would be hard pressed to compare their casts to the cast of Dallas in terms of attractiveness and sex appeal. I don't know of an actress on TV today as beautiful as Victoria Principal was in Dallas and she wasn't the only good looking member of the cast by any means.

    Dallas would have more competition today than it had back then because of the massive expansion of cable TV. Still, I'm confident that it would be the most watched show on TV over the next 7 or 8 years just as it was back in the late 70s and 80s. There isn't a show on TV today that has the same level of work ethic Dallas had as far as creating 25 to 30 one hour episodes per year. When a season ended, people wouldn't have to wait 9 or 10 months to see the next season. They'd only have to wait from spring to fall and they would do so with great anticipation. Some times the more things change the more they stay the same and that certainly goes for the main elements of what made Dallas the greatest and most successful TV drama of all time and it certainly goes for the main aspects of Dallas which made people love to watch it so much!
     
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2019
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  2. Billy Wall

    Billy Wall Soap Chat Active Member

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    Dallas is one of those shows that came at just the right time. The classic soap opera just isn’t as popular in 2019 as it was in the late 70’s and the 80’s.
     
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  3. Dr. Ellby's hair

    Dr. Ellby's hair Soap Chat Member

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    I'm afraid that if Dallas debuted now the cast would be full of pretty faces with no charisma and little talent.
    And scripts sanitized because of politically correctness.

    Also, if cable-tv show then also filled with T&A
     
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  4. Snarky's Ghost

    Snarky's Ghost Soap Chat Oracle

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    Today, the women would be running everything on DALLAS -- which would be okay if it wasn't done in the despicable, smug way it would be. The males would all be relegated to destructive sidekicks who have occasional gay sex scenes with each other.

    Seriously.
     
  5. Michael Torrance

    Michael Torrance Soap Chat Dream Maker

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    There is nothing ground-breaking about Dallas today, while it was ground-breaking then. It is now quite tepid in comparison. If anything, the fact that no channel chooses to rerun it on cable or syndication, choosing instead to go for vapid talk shows, courtroom shows, or cooking shows, or for self-contained procedurals, shows how much modern audiences have no interest in a story like Dallas. Otherwise, since there are many, many people who have not seen it, somebody would have it airing.
     
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  6. Lastkidpicked

    Lastkidpicked Soap Chat Fan

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    Very interesting question posed by Kenny Coyote.
    There is one element to Dallas back in 1978 that would be missing today. Back then there was no Hulu, no Youtube, and no video streaming. So you HAD to watch on Friday night or you missed it entirely. People did watch together, and Dallas made it cool to stay home on Friday nights.

    Besides, you didn't want to miss out on the conversations at work the following Monday!

    With the ability to tune in at any time, there probably would not be the Friday night Dallas parties I remember. But there is one advantage to airing the show today. People could watch on their own time, and then come to sites just like this one, and discuss the show during the week.

    It could work. . .
     
  7. Billy Wall

    Billy Wall Soap Chat Active Member

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    You’re right, but one of the reasons why Dallas isn’t rerun anymore is that it’s expensive. Patrick Duffy explained it well. With a show like Dallas, you have to acquire all 12 seasons. And like I said before, Classic soaps just aren’t as popular today as they were back then.

    But with all that being said, Dallas is the perfect show for reruns as there’s almost enough episodes to fill up a calendar year.
     
  8. Kenny Coyote

    Kenny Coyote Soap Chat Well-Known Member

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    Just to avoid any confusion, for the purpose of this thread I'm referring to Dallas as it was and why it would succeed if it was just making its debut now in its original form. No more political correctness than the original had, no changes in cast (we're supposing that all the cast of Dallas would have been born later so they'd be at the same ages now as they were in 1978. Everything remains the same except the start changes from 1978 to now.

    Thanks, LastKid!

    That feeling of having to stay at home Fridays was unique. Eventually there was no need to because VCRs with timer recording became popular, but in the early days of Dallas, yes, people really did have to stay home. That it was good enough to stay home for on a Friday night says a lot!

    Regarding your comment on discussing it on the internet forums, here we are, over 27 years after Dallas ended and we're discussing it. Can you imagine the numbers of people that would be n this forum if this show we all love were in its original airing?

    People will always watch a good story told well. Being ground-breaking isn't necessary although things I mentioned above such as Dallas being more character driven than the shows currently being made, and having a full length season instead of a glorified mini-series so as to be able to tell a detailed, well nuanced story the right way would still differentiate it from the rest of the TV shows of today.

    The classic novels and classic movies are still enjoyed generation after generation despite no longer being groundbreaking. They're good stories told well and that's all they need to remain classics for generations to come.
     
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2019
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  9. KayLloyd

    KayLloyd Soap Chat Fan

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    We would need the united live and let live tolerant climate that we used to have in this country during Dallas's run back for that apples to apples comparison to even be possible. In the deeply troubling current climate, Dallas would never be allowed to exist as it was. It would be either an extremely boring PC show with an obnoxious political agenda on network tv or an unwatchable raunchy mess on cable.
     
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2019
  10. Kenny Coyote

    Kenny Coyote Soap Chat Well-Known Member

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    Never be allowed to exist as it was? Who would stop it from existing as it was and how? I realize it's not everyone's style, but people who tried it and didn't like it wouldn't have to keep watching it, would they?

    Besides, Dallas doesn't seem politically incorrect to me. They let Breaking Bad air and that had some very disturbing material, including 100 times more violence than Dallas ever had. The hero of the show cooked crystal meth. That's as socially irresponsible as it gets. I think even in this PC world, bourbon and branch is far more acceptable than crystal meth.
     
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  11. KayLloyd

    KayLloyd Soap Chat Fan

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    Network executives would pressure the Jacobs and Katzman of a Dallas in the #MeToo era to rewrite the behavior of the male and female characters and advance the liberal agenda that Hollywood is trying to force down the country's throat. Illegals would be taking over Southfork, J.R. would be a transgendered fashionista, and Donna would have a third trimester abortion the day before her due date without telling Ray.
     
  12. Michael Torrance

    Michael Torrance Soap Chat Dream Maker

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    And yet, while Grey's Anatomy, with more seasons, is on Netflix and Lifetime, and even in syndication, Dallas is nowhere to be seen. So it's not cost as much as whether they think people would watch it. As you said, 80s soaps are no longer popular, and I also don't think this genre overall is, otherwise somebody would have successfully brought it back. If you look at what they are doing with Dynasty at the CW, many of you will count your blessings nobody tries to update it for the times.
     
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  13. Miss Texas 1967

    Miss Texas 1967 Soap Chat Fan

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    To be honest, without knowing the success behind the show at the beginning I'm not sure the show would maintain an audience with the mix of boring self-contained episodes in season 2. Season 1 (mini) is fine, 5 self-contained but decent episodes, season 2 kind of struggles along in parts imo. That's not to say season 2 is bad, but the show definitely benefits later from the serialised storytelling. I always find myself wanting to fast forward through some of the more boring episodes in season 2, ones where they are self-contained and that means the episode generally centres around a certain character. Triangle, Fallen Idol and Runaway all spring to mind without me having to go and look at the episode list. The show changes the next season and is better for it, but who knows if the network or audience would have given the show a chance in a modern TV environment.
     
  14. Kenny Coyote

    Kenny Coyote Soap Chat Well-Known Member

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    That's an excellent point and something I should have taken into account but didn't.

    I feel pretty much the way you do, although I do like the Fallen Idol episode. I find it sad and also powerful. That kind of thing can happen to people - they can get "lost" after high school when there is no longer the same structure and sometimes people don't find the same success they found in high school. If "Friday Night Lights" was an accurate indication, people in Texas take high school football so seriously it's crazy! I can see how a kid could excel in the high school ranks but then not quite have what it takes to excel at the college and pro levels.

    So, back to the problem of season two and the boring and/or self contained episodes. Ideally if Dallas were beginning this year, they would not broadcast all of season 2.. They could drop the 5 least important episodes, add the 5 episodes from season one, and they'd have a full length first season, but the second season would be season 3 (DVD count). Does that sound like a good solution?
     
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  15. darkshadows38

    darkshadows38 Soap Chat Fan

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    there's nothing wrong with T&A lol but i don't think it would be as big as a hit cause times are different. really there aren't that many shows like this anymore case in point the TNT Dallas while that wasn't a failure by any means it was cancelled after we lost Larry Hagman and we all saw that coming. if they did it today they'd show more of the act of sex in the show than hint it like the Original show did. and yes if it was on HBO it would of course show it, but for me though the only drama that i watch that isn't about crime off the top of my head is Grey's Anatomy. i know they brought back Beverly Hills some years back but that sequel if you want to call it that was awful. the Melrose place i liked a bit better but it was still a pretty weak show as well.

    the reboots i of course mean, the writing done today is also vastly different as well. we wouldn't be getting 35 episodes per season at all like we did during the 80's not that is a bad thing either. but the episodes would be a lot shorter as well which isn't something would work. if they remade it again all with a new cast of course... it'd be more like Passions where the entire cast is attractive and the era i saw of the show which is just pretty much the first few months i didn't see one actor other than that little dude that played Timmy that could act at all..

    now that's not to say there acting wasn't good in other stuff or improved. but that show was for me painful to watch because of the lack of acting talent and really hard to watch too..
    leaving the supernatural element that show would be Dallas Today if it was made today and yes i know that was a daytime soap but that cast had an entire attractive cast and that is so not realistic on how the world works. you don't have an entire town/city were all the citizens look like models, i know people love Juliet Mills on the show and i have seen her in other stuff where she was fine but i thought she was awful on the show. and a lot of it i think has to do with the directing to at times, it really depends on who is the director and if they care about their performance as well. case in point the Original Dallas had a lot of bad acting and Victoria Principal for example in some scenes she could be damn good when it called for it.

    and in other scenes she could be really awful. i've been watching Dark Shadows again recently and to further my point Nancy Barrett could be also damn good on the show but when the show went supernatural and she had to act terrified and was directed to go overboard and was graded for it too she was simply awful at it. but it depended on the director for that too for some of the cast. Lela Swift is the one who graded them i don't think the other directors did that.

    the Original Dallas as much as we love it was smart enough to do a mini-series and it was a really written season as well even though there were some medicore episodes in there too..
    but they wouldn't be getting the numbers they did back in the day either, what with streaming around now... they got lucky when they did the who Shot JR storyline. don't get me wrong it is a fantastic story line. but nobody expected it to be as big as it was and that has never happened since to any show since than... they give us cliff hangers that i can go on for hrs on how much i hate cliff-hangers. i won't though but it was a new thing back than and it worked. these days i think it would be more effective if shows did it less or not at all or if they did it, and it was a good one it would have more an effect like Dallas did cause nobody was doing it back than. i miss those days when shows didn't do it that often or not at all

    okay i'm done sorry for the rambling
     
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  16. Rove

    Rove Soap Chat Enthusiast

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    To be honest I don't think Dallas would do the numbers (ratings) in today's environment like it did back in its heyday. There is too much competition. Commercial networks (speaking on behalf of Australia)) have nearly given up on producing new contemporary drama. Their excuse? It's too expensive. So. The next option is to create pseudo reality nonsense masquerading as adult drama which moronic viewers watch - thinking it's real. Go figure.

    Personally I don't watch idiots desperately wishing to find their perfect partner - on a television series. Bitchy people on cooking shows. For the love of GOD it's food! Renovation shows, again with pseudo created drama. All I can say is, Praise The Lord for Netflix.

    But here is the flipside. People I speak with throughout my working day constantly remark how little they watch commercial television. They too have joined the Netflix Club. The one constant in my many conversations is where has the entertainment gone? Where are those risk takers? What I do find interesting is Dallas premiered in the American Spring, April 2, 1978. I'm assuming this was unusual because I thought in those days most new programs were given a winter premiere date to capture most viewers. Perhaps launching Dallas in Spring allowed it some breathing space because again, I'm assuming, nothing else was on.

    I might be overthinking things here but I still believe there is a market for Dallas types on television. I don't wish to watch a series at breakneck speed. Just a series that is character driven, not overtly plot driven. And in this age of #MeToo I'd love to see a male character, driven by power to succeed. If that means inappropriately touching or suggesting something to a female which we all know is wrong, then so be it. If he is married but has no hesitation in sleeping around, so be it. I want characters with backbone, whether they're male or female. I want to understand their flaws and strengths. Seriously I just want to sink my teeth into something worthwhile.

    All that said. If Dallas was to air today with exactly the same storyline I'm not sure it would succeed, unless of course they'd be prepared to push the envelope. Take for example Miss Ellie's breast cancer story. While brilliantly told and portrayed by Barbara Bel Geddes I'd imagine the boundaries of telling this story in 2019 would require a brave actress to fully immerse herself into the role. We actually see her partially naked (exposed breast) as she submits to an initial check up by her doctor. We see her again, partially naked, go for a scan. If the mastectomy story is to be truly told they could have the actress exposed (using CGI) post op. Showing the full horror of breast cancer. This is the kind of shock tactics I think would need to be seen and told in an intelligent manner to get viewers attention. Would a commercial television station be game enough to tell that kind of story? Probably not.

    #IMISSDALLAS :)
     
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  17. Barbara Fan

    Barbara Fan Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Dallas came along at the right time in the late 70s and was different from other TV shows such as goody 2 shoes Walton's, Little House etc

    It was different, it was big, bold, glossy, and for me it was an 80s show that summed up the 80s for wealth, money, materialism - the Reagan era

    there was far less choice then and fewer channels, people didn't have VCRs til early 80s so it was a big deal and it changes soap opera with the Cliff hanger and nothing was better or more talked about than who shot JR? it was the most talked about storyline that captured the world

    Would I watch Dallas now - I don't know, im not a teenage schoolgirl anymore and my TV and tastes have changed - I like to Binge watch dramas now and Im so glad I grew up in the 80s pre Internet, Twitter, FB et al as they would never be able to keep who shot JR a secret - it would be splashed everywhere and its amazing they were able to do it back then.

    I think TV audiences have changed - I rarely watch Live TV, have given up on Coronation Street, once a must - and thought TNT Dallas sucked and gave up on that.

    Im glad Im an 80s girl and Dallas was an 80s show and to quote Miss Ellie " I have my memories and my memories are forever" I don't think Dallas would be the world wide success now that it was in the 80s and there is simply so much choice around now and people want things instantly and quick, don't want to wait 30 weeks to find out what happens at the end!
     
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  18. Lastkidpicked

    Lastkidpicked Soap Chat Fan

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    Okay, you just brought up a perfect example of how timing is everything.

    I'm in Texas, and here is the timeline as I see it for Friday Night Lights: (for our European friends, remember that this is American Football)

    1970's In Texas, high school football is everything. When a town finds a great player from 100 miles away-- what do you know? That player's father is offered a lucrative job in town so that he will bring his family (and football star son) along with him. Restaurants allow team players to eat free, because if the players eat there then the restaurant is instantly popular.
    How seriously is winning and losing taken? There are multiple examples of coaches losing a game, and the next morning he walks outside to find "FOR SALE" signs in his front yard. A subtle way of telling him it's time to move on.

    So, if they produced "Friday Night Lights" in the 1970's then nobody would watch it. The attitude would be, "Yeah? So what?"

    2006-2011 This is when the series was filmed. It drew a wide audience because people were starting to see and hear about what was going on behind the scenes in Texas football. Some pretty great things, and some pretty nasty and ruthless things. Like watching J.R. and tuning in to see what schemes he would come up with next, we were interested in watching both the good and bad side of Texas football, and wondering what schemes would pop up next.

    2024 If "Friday Night Lights" was shown five years from now, nobody would watch it. The attitude would be, "We now know about how these kids suffered concussions, blown out knees, and back problems. And all for the further profit of rich people. I'm not watching this trash."

    So, in Friday Night Lights, timing is everything.

    As it is in Dallas. Let's look at the parallels:
    Both shows are uniquely American. And I will say that Dallas absolutely nailed the "feel" of the Texas with the cars, the pickup trucks, the helicopters, and the Oil Barron's club. Those of you who have spent time in Texas know what a great job they did.

    Let's hold Dallas up to a timeline:

    1950's and 1960's If they could go back in time and show Dallas, exactly like we saw it, there would be a limited audience. The attitude would be, "We are trying to build a society torn apart by a world war. We need to do the right thing, and more importantly, we need to teach our kids to do the right things. Leave it to Beaver, the Andy Griffith Show, Father Knows Best-- these were the popular shows of the day. Shows that told us, "Live by the rules, do the right thing, and you will prosper".

    1978: Times are rough. We are finding out that you can live by the rules, do the right thing, and still get screwed. In the U.S, we elected a very moral and honest president. The problem is that a moral and honest president sounds good, but sometimes can't get things done.

    Along comes J.R. Ewing. For good or bad, he does get things done. Politician standing in the way? Bribe him. Family Lawyer has ethical problem showing you the will and testament? Hire a good looking prostitute to move things along!

    We need a person who can get things done! My usual table, Dora Mae! Get you boys a bourbon and branch?
    Dallas is number one all over the world! Let's watch that Magnificent Bastard put it to 'em!

    But, savor the flavor because. . .

    2019: If they re-ran the series, exactly as it is now, during prime time then I'm not sure how audiences would react. We are seeing a push-back against rich corporate leaders who get even richer from stealing from the company, the shareholders, and the employees. Instead of cheering on the Magnificent Bastard, people might look at the schemes and say, "Wait a minute! These people are getting richer by taking it from me!" and that is very true.

    Very interesting idea to think about what would happen if Dallas debuted today. I'm glad you brought it up.
     
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2019
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  19. Lastkidpicked

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    Barbara Fan has summed this up perfectly. Thank you.
     
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  20. Taylor Bennett Jr.

    Taylor Bennett Jr. Soap Chat Well-Known Member

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    this is why I feel Bobby's football background was way underplayed in the series. He was good enough to be the starting quarterback for the UT Longhorns, which means he would have been an absolute superstar at Braddock High. He'd be more known in Texas as a football hero than as scion of an oil family.

    [​IMG]
     
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