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It's Become Obvious Why Dallas Went Downhill

Discussion in 'Dallas - The Original Series' started by Kenny Coyote, Sep 22, 2016.

  1. Taylor Bennett Jr.

    Taylor Bennett Jr. Soap Chat Fan

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    I would like to have seen that in one of the early Dallas seasons. Could you imagine how many "damns" and "hells" a UFO visit would have elicited out of Jock?
     
  2. Willie Oleson

    Willie Oleson drilling for soap

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    Deleted scene from Dallas (they did it first!):



    Starring Dorothy Malone as Miss Ellie (because BBG refused to do it).
     
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  3. Lastkidpicked

    Lastkidpicked Soap Chat Active Member

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    How great to see Jim Davis in a completely different role!

    When speaking of the demise of Dallas, my I offer a macroeconomic reason outside their control that did contribute to the ratings decline?

    Look at the world events during the height of Dallas in 1980. Recession, layoffs, downsizing. Good, solid jobs that we thought would be around forever were vanishing on a daily basis.
    We needed a diversion!
    That entire summer, we were able to forget about real life for a few moments at a time by talking about "Who shot J.R.?" It was great! Las Vegas even had odds makers taking bets on who did it.

    Also, remember that this is before Youtube, Hulu, and DVR's. So you HAD to watch on Friday nights or you missed it completely. This led to Dallas parties on Friday nights, along with watercooler discussions at work on Monday. Dallas was what everybody was talking about.

    Fast forward several years. Cable TV with hundreds of channels becomes available for the first time. VCR's are now affordable and people can record television shows, including Dallas, for viewing later. It was no longer necessary to stay in on Fridays to watch Dallas. The decline in storylines, along with the ability to say, "I can watch this later", conspired to allow viewers to start drifting away.

    But take it from a guy who was there for the original run, and the Who Shot J.R. summer-- It was a helluva ride!
     
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  4. Richard Channing

    Richard Channing Soap Chat Dream Maker

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    And then there's the little known Dallas/Dynasty Sci-Fi crossover/spin-off 'Mysterious Two', where Rebecca Wentworth and Blake Carrington runaway together on a UFO, start their own space cult, and then come back to spread their message to humanity. (first contact is at 18.24)

     
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  5. Kenny Coyote

    Kenny Coyote Soap Chat Fan

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    Nice post Lastkidpicked. Your comments on macroeconomics remind me of something that was going on around season 10 of Dallas. Around 1986-1987. At the time I thought when JR became desperate enough to hire Calhoun to blow up Saudi Arabian oilfields because the price of oil had fallen to such a low point, that it was just storyline. But you probably know about this more than most - I think we discussed it once. What they called "the oil crunch" in the oil states was real! If I remember correctly oil fell to $9 a barrel. It wasn't just the oil companies that were affected but any other business in that part of the country that was even indirectly related. Braniff Airlines went out of business. Major hotels went out of business. The economy became so bad in that part of the country that rock and country music bands that had national tours were skipping that part of the country because the entertainment dollar was just gone. It really was that bad wasn't it? How long did it last?
     
    Last edited: Oct 31, 2018
  6. Mustard

    Mustard Soap Chat Active Member

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    The start of J.R. Ewing's decline was bottling his $1 million deal with B.D. Calhoun to blow up Saudi oil fields. A younger J.R. broke US law by successfully financing a counter-revolution in a South East Asian country, and successfully shipping oil to Cuba, also going to Cuba to collect his millions in a cheque etc.
     
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  7. Taylor Bennett Jr.

    Taylor Bennett Jr. Soap Chat Fan

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    Jock seems uncharacteristically meek here... perhaps he needed Barbara to bring out his gritty side.

    Speaking thereof, he more than met his match in this musclebound creation of the Daughter Of Frankenstein a few years earlier, leading him to leave his side job as a Marshal and concentrate full-time on Ewing Oil and the Southfork Ranch.

    [​IMG]

    full movie at -
     
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  8. Michael Torrance

    Michael Torrance Soap Chat Addict

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    If the ratings dropped because Bobby/Duffy left, why didn't these viewers come back the following season? Unless they did, and the numbers can't tell that story because there is no audience analysis (who was watching in season 10 that was still around in season 9).

    I think this is a more plausible explanation. After the shower scene fiasco, enough viewers stayed around to keep the show in the top 20. But while shows have to change (we are talking about a show's tenth season--no small achievement) what changes happen, in what direction and when can make or break a show.
    DALLAS would have profited from that now-familiar TV trope, the time jump. Imagine if instead of Cidre, the original team was telling the story of the next generation of Ewings with the original actors still around.
     
  9. Toni

    Toni Soap Chat Dream Maker

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    I think that what made J.R. so powerful on "Dallas" was the fact that he could gain so much money just by working every day in his Dallas office, wheeling and dealing, bribing and blackmailing. That was the essence of the show. No need to show so many bombings, range wars, European trips (though I did like them in a Love Boat kind of way), etc.

    Also there was the Bobby factor: if J.R.´s power was under control by his brother (as mainly was in the 4 or 5 last seasons), and J.R. didn´t even try to outsmart him to get more power and money for himself ONLY, then J.R. did become Bobby´s supporting character. Oddly enough this happened when Larry was co-executive producer of the series and Katzman was back at the reins.

    One of the number 1 rules (among others) was broken when the Ewing brothers lost Ewing Oil after the Calhoun disaster. Not only was swept under the rug the fact that John Ross and Sue Ellen had been kidnapped, but also and much worse, that J.R. didn´t really do anything to cover the fact that he had hired B.D. for a start. And throwing the FBI agent (or CIA?) over him that early on was an awful decision from the writers because it was almost impossible that Ewing Oil could defeat FBI.

    Then suspense was gone and the Ewing fall was sentenced, thus making the whole family weak, disjointed and as guilty as B.D. himself. And this is not the Ewings of "Dallas" that I remembered, so I´d take the Dream Season any day instead of all the post-dream shenanigans. Ugh.
     
    Last edited: Oct 31, 2018
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  10. Willie Oleson

    Willie Oleson drilling for soap

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    Makes me wonder, why did they do these awful movies when they were already on a hit show? (and it wasn't only Jim Davis and John Forsythe).
     
  11. Taylor Bennett Jr.

    Taylor Bennett Jr. Soap Chat Fan

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    one man's awful movie is another man's masterpiece, I guess. I, for one, plan on settling in this evening with a nice tub of popcorn and an ice-cold bottle of Night Train Express for a wonderful night of Old West Halloween Horror featuring a full viewing of Jesse James Meets Frankenstein's Daughter

    (can't be any worse than the last couple of seasons of Dallas, can it?)
     
    Last edited: Oct 31, 2018
  12. Kenny Coyote

    Kenny Coyote Soap Chat Fan

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    I think when you've got a show that requires you to watch every week because instead of self-contained stories in each episode you have a serialized format, it takes a certain commitment on the part of the viewer to watch every week. Once you lose an audience member from that type of show, you're probably not going to get them back.
     
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  13. Willie Oleson

    Willie Oleson drilling for soap

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    It's not that I don't appreciate a good-awful trashy movie, but I don't think anyone would call "The Day Time Ended" a masterpiece.
     
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  14. Taylor Bennett Jr.

    Taylor Bennett Jr. Soap Chat Fan

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    you're probably right - that's one's likely not even a masterpiece of good-awful trashiness!
     
  15. Mustard

    Mustard Soap Chat Active Member

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    I don't get those people who talk like Patrick Duffy as Bobby Ewing HAD to return, when Bobby Ewing had been dead for a season. There were other characters that could be used to cause J.R. trouble, like Jack, Pam and Mark. So why weren't they used a lot more to that end? Why instead the desire to press the reset button?

    Also, wasn't Bobby's death a brilliant way to go? All that was undone. And as David Jacobs said, the worst thing about the dream revelation was how badly they had treated the viewers who had mourned Bobby. They had been on a string for a year and 31 episodes, and none of it happened. Therefore, why invest emotionally in future storylines?
     
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  16. Michael Torrance

    Michael Torrance Soap Chat Addict

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    What you are saying is generally true, but the probably part is also true, i.e. it is not impossible for viewers of a serialized show to come back if the show gets its act together.
    DYNASTY proved that wasn't true in the 1985-1986 season, when the awful storylines of the early season (Rita, Alexis as a nun in Moldavia) drove people away but then they came back after the show's retooling in 1986. Then the show dropped again when the quality dropped in the following season. More recently, Grey's Anatomy dropped in #31 and #32 in ratings during its 7th and 8th seasons, only to come back to #15 in its 10th season (and #5 in 18-49).
     
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  17. Lastkidpicked

    Lastkidpicked Soap Chat Active Member

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    Both very insightful posts.
    And this is about the time that people had many other viewing options. Along with the oil glut, making companies such as Ewing Oil worth only pennies on the dollar.
    I lived through it, and spent a lot of time in Texas at the time. It was bad and lasted five or six years, depending on when you count the rebound.

    SOOOOOO . . . What's a show about an oil empire to do? Give up, and go for increasingly ridiculous storylines? That was the option they took.

    But think about the opportunity here. Imagine this:

    Ewing Oil is on the brink of bankruptcy. It will take more than one of J.R.s dirty deals to right the ship. The Ewing brothers are going to finally admit defeat, and they meet with Miss Ellie to explain how they will be forced to dismantle Ewing Oil. This leads to Miss Ellie telling stories about when Jock and Digger were young. How they went wildcatting with nothing but hopes and dreams. And how they didn't give up.

    Bobby and J.R. decide they owe it to Jock to go back to their roots and rebuild Ewing Oil from the ground up. Imagine the storylines of Bobby, wearing jeans and work gloves as he leads crews to go back and get the last barrels of oil out of wells they had closed earlier.

    While Bobby is out in the field leading crews, we see J.R. (in a pickup he borrowed from Ray) spending time in bars and cafe's, talking with the locals and making oil deals a few dollars at a time.

    I think it would be fun to watch J.R. and Bobby rebuild Ewing Oil one well (and one deal) at a time.
     
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2018
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  18. Rove

    Rove Soap Chat Dream Maker

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    An interesting post Lastkidpicked. My reasoning for quoting "Fast forward several years" was because I've recently been thinking about Lorimar Dallas and "Black Monday or Tuesday (as it was known here in Australia and New Zealand)." On Monday, 19 October 1987 stock markets around the world crashed leading to some countries spiralling into a recession.

    While television can be a wonderful device for escaping the daily blues I've wondered if Dallas could have profited from a case of realism. Yes. I understand the bible for series like Dallas are generally set well in advance but I'm curious. If the writers had a peek into the future of what was to come could throwing world events at televisions first family improve our perspective on watching the Ewing's struggle...just like the rest of us.

    "After The Fall/Ewing Rise" had its original air date of 25 September 1987. This was the series return after Pam's tanker crash cliffhanger. Dallas was already going into dark mode again. Okay, some viewers still had issues with the return of Bobby but he was back so we better get used to it...and fast.

    Interesting when Dallas began the world was in the midst of a recession yet viewers were somehow fascinated with this wealthy oil family. As the economy grew so did viewer numbers for Dallas. But then the strangest thing occurs. When world markets dip into a recession again, instead of our continued support of Dallas we drift away. The stories didn't help but I'm left wondering if world events had somehow conspired to destroy the Ewing family, whether they liked it or not. Somehow we had a distaste for shows like Dallas and Dynasty splashing around there wealth as if they were immune to such events.

    I would have liked to see some type of scenario you mention. I think a touch of hard times could have helped Dallas and our view of the Ewing's immensely.
     
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2018
  19. Taylor Bennett Jr.

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    I've definitely heard it said (maybe on Dallas Decoder?) that one reason for the early success of the show is that the wealth of the Ewings was an escape from the reality of recession.

    On the other hand, Dallas was perhaps an early indicator of the "greed is good" trend of the Reagan 80s (that quote coming from 'Wall Street', which cultural critics have sometimes marked as the apotheosis of the era.)

    In the silly but fun 'ABCs of Dallas' thread, we've been posting photos of the cars people on the show drove over the years. It's clear that the US automotive industry was a few years behind the economic times, which makes sense, as it takes a number of years (especially back then) for a car model to get from concept to production. As the show began, people were still driving preposterous long gas guzzlers like Jock's Lincoln - but that was right about the time GM and Ford released their downsized models in reaction to the Oil Embargo of 1973, and cars, especially American, went downhill well into the 80s. By the late 80s, even JR was driving a thoroughly pedestrian Allante (what happened to the grand Eldorados and Fleetwoods?)

    Maybe the popularity of the over-the-top opulence of Dynasty, etc., which of course influenced Dallas in the shoulderpads and Angelica Nero days, was a reaction to the lameness of certain subdued 80s styles (short, curveless cars, thin ties and no more butterfly collars).

    (I think I was originally leading to a grand, profound point, but I have no idea what it was supposed to be now... at least I got 'apotheosis' in there! :) )
     
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  20. Kenny Coyote

    Kenny Coyote Soap Chat Fan

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    Have you watched the "special features" on the Dallas DVDs? I think the special feature for one of the seasons has that statement that one reason for the early success for the show is their wealth being an escape from the reality of recession.

    Just out of curiosity, what credentials do "cultural critics" have which are supposed to make their opinions on culture any more valid than anyone else's? Heh heh, the way I see it, everyone has the right to their opinion but it is just that - an opinion.

    I remember the "greed is good" quote from Wall Street being one of the quotes which became ubiquitous in that time period, maybe almost as much as Clint Eastwood's "Go ahead...make my day." Come to think of it, had a big budget movie based on Dallas ever been made (a movie for theatrical release - not a made for TV movie), Eastwood might have made a pretty good Jock Ewing. Regarding "greed is good" though, I don't know how many people ever embraced that as an ethos. I'm sure some did, especially among stockbrokers, but as far as it being an apotheosis of...hold on, "apotheosis"??? No, I don't agree with cultural critics who say it was the apotheosis of the era. I'd more inclined to go with "work ethic is good", although that's not very catchy, or even something as basic as "success is good." The Reagan era was an awesome time, and I hope I get to experience another era as great as that one was before I die, but I can't say I'm optimistic about the chances of it. I think if most people at that time were living by the motto "greed is good" that there would have been a very noticeable nastiness in the air that I honestly don't remember being there. I think there's been more nastiness in this Trump era than there was in the Reagan era.

    As for Dallas being an early indicator of a certain trend, I don't see it that way. Dallas started with an interesting concept on which to build a serialized prime time TV saga. Then they were smart enough and lucky enough to get the actors and actresses for the main ensemble whom they got. It was brilliant casting. Then the people producing and writing it during the glory years of the series really knew how to create good stories. There were so many storylines that were great and very memorable. That there are still as many people coming to this forum to discuss a TV series which ended in 1991 is a testament to just how good Dallas was.

    That's what I believe was responsible for the majority of the success Dallas had. Sure, being a fun escape from reality helped, but I think the biggest reason for its success was that they were great at telling good stories and no matter what era you're in, no matter what the state of the economy is, good, well told stories never go out of style.

    Wan't that Cadillac Allante the car that Mandy Winger called "the most beautiful car I've ever seen"?

    Regarding over-the top opulence being a reaction to "the lameness of certain subdued 80s styles", that's an interesting theory. I love these references to 1980s culture and the places they take these threads. Even when I don't necessarily agree with a particular idea, it still makes me think. The discussions on this forum, especially over the last week or so have been great. I haven't come across another internet forum that has had as many posts of intellectual substance as this one. Unfortunately the rise in popularity of posts made up of nothing but gifs or memes on other internet forums has made them a lot less appealing than they used to be.

    I'm honestly not sure that the opulence you mentioned was a reaction to "the lameness of certain subdued 80s styles." It might have been. The particular styles you named were subdued and lame but when I think of 80s styles, "subdued" isn't a word that usually comes to mind. I think today's styles are a lot more subdued and lame than 80s styles in general. The hair styles for both men and women certainly weren't subdued in the 80s. The clothing was, I think, the opposite of subdued and I think as the 80s went on, clothing styles were getting more and more over the top. I actually liked the neon colored shirts that were in during the late 80s and early 90s but looking back on it I think they were tacky. The music of the 80s and early 90s is my favorite rock music of any era although I love some of the rock from the 70s like Led Zeppelin, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Pink Floyd, Deep Purple, Aerosmith (their 70s songs blow away their 80s songs) and I also love 1970s Black Sabbath and Judas Priest. 1980s hard rock and heavy metal like Guns 'n' Roses and Metallica is anything but subdued or lame. Even the more mainstream rock from the 80s like Journey's "Escape" album or "Foreigner 4" is great, in my opinion, and pretty much everything about it from the songs themselves and the musicianship all the way down to the studio production is the opposite of subdued. The appearance of the rock bands back then was also very flashy. Remember the glam bands like Motley Crue and Bon Jovi?

    So even though the clothing styles you mentioned were "subdued and lame", an awful lot of the rest of the styles back then from clothing to music was anything but subdued, and so I don't think the over-the-top opulence of Dynasty which Dallas copied (I didn't watch Dynasty but I know what you mean) and which was especially apparent in the way the women on Dallas at the time, especially Angelica Nero, was a reaction to certain subdued 80s styles. I've seen enough glimpses of Dynasty to know they were very over-the-top with glamor and maybe what we then saw on Dallas was solely a reaction to what Dynasty was doing. Dynasty had become not just a threat to Dallas in the Nielsen ratings, but a serious rival which sometimes even managed to get slightly higher ratings than Dallas. Unfortunately Dallas apparently felt compelled to emulate the style of Dynasty, at least to a degree and I believe that was a big mistake. In their glory years Dallas had always been the innovator. Other shows tried to copy them. Dallas never should have stopped being the innovator or started being the one that copied others. When they did, it was all downhill from there.
     
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2018
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