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Plot lines that only work before cell phones and internet

Discussion in 'Dallas - The Original Series' started by Lastkidpicked, Dec 30, 2019.

  1. Lastkidpicked

    Lastkidpicked Soap Chat Addict EXP: 11 Years

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    Kenny Coyote and I were having a discussion about how cell phones and social media have replaced a lot of the face to face conversations we all have together.

    It brought up an interesting idea: There are many plot lines that only worked before cell phones and the internet were invented. Here's one that jumped out at me:

    Bobby was able to do something that J.R. never could. He bought a refinery. Bobby charted an oil tanker to ship much needed oil to his new refinery. As an audience, we were able to watch as J.R. worked behind the scenes to have Bobby's ship sink after secretly unloading the oil into one of J.R.s tankers.

    In addition to this, J.R. even made money twice-- selling Bobby's oil as his own, and then also cashing in on the insurance for the wrecked oil tanker, which was a junker anyway.

    It was great fun to watch J.R. manipulate everything behind the scenes, including a great scene where Bobby tells Mr. Eugene that his young and beautiful wife was behind the fraud.

    Mr. Eugene's reaction was that no matter what his wife did, he intended on keeping her. "What God and money have joined together, let no man put asunder".

    A great plot and it was fun to watch J.R. behind the scenes. But here is what would happen today:

    1) Bobby would charter the oil tanker to haul his crude and double check the departure online.
    2) He would have Phyllis double check the insurance online
    3) And that simple, Bobby would have discovered any fraud.

    And we would have missed out on the fun of watching J.R. pulling the strings behind the scenes of the oil tanker deal.

    Can you all think of any other plot points that only worked because they took place before cell phones and the internet?
     
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2019
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  2. Kenny Coyote

    Kenny Coyote Soap Chat Enthusiast EXP: 12 Years

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    Yeah, it has definitely changed the world, even the TV world that we have internet and cell phones and not always in a good way. I'm probably going to be in the minority here, but I think the internet has been destructive as a whole to our society. Kids growing up now have no idea on what they missed out on in the 80s and 90s - that was our society's golden age. I love 70s stuff too, but was too young in the 70s to appreciate it. The 21st century has been very stagnant in many ways compared to the 20th century. Sure there are some advantages to how things are now, but overall, the late 20th century blows away the early 21st century.

    I'm going to have to try to remember other plot points in Dallas that only worked because it was before the internet and cell phones, but I bet there are lots of those!

    The only one that comes to mind right now is the "Who Shot JR" storyline and keeping the secret. That was wonderful for the audience, and sadly, it would probably be ruined if it had been done these days because someone would have ruined the surprise for everyone else - just to get his name known as the one who discovered who the shooter is. As unbelievably inconsiderate as it would be to do that, f**king all the millions of the fans in the process, as well as all the hard working people in the show, I really believe that these days, some little bastard would do that just to get the notoriety of being the one to ruin the story. I don't understand that mentality - why would ruining the story for millions of people give anyone satisfaction?
     
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2019
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  3. Lastkidpicked

    Lastkidpicked Soap Chat Addict EXP: 11 Years

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    That is a perfect example of things that worked out much better before the internet.

    During the summer of "Who Shot J.R." we all wanted to talk about it. Since there were no chat rooms yet, we had to do it in person.

    Instead of asking somebody, "Do you think it will rain today?" You would open the conversation with "So, who do YOU think shot J.R.?"

    Also remember that back then, there was no Tivo, or no Youtube. So everybody watched it together on Friday night. Compare this to the 1970's when it was cool to be "out". Out at the disco, out at the bars, just "out".

    But Dallas made it cool to stay in on Friday nights.
     
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  4. Taylor Bennett Jr.

    Taylor Bennett Jr. Soap Chat Dream Maker EXP: 1 Year

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    I think a lot of the early plots where JR or Pam or whoever had to hire a PI to check out the background of someone often would have been shortcut by the internet. People like Rebecca Wentworth might have been easier to track down, and the great Guzzler's business foibles would have been out there on the internet. The trips to the Hall of Records to look through paper files might have been unnecessary. JR could have been tracking weather radar by the minute at the site of the Asian Oil rigs. There are lots of others, I'm sure.
     
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  5. Lastkidpicked

    Lastkidpicked Soap Chat Addict EXP: 11 Years

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    Yes! And the best part of hiring a PI to check out a character is instead of an internet search solving the mystery in a few minutes, the writers could follow the PI around and allow the information to dribble out bit by bit.

    This went a long way toward building the suspense.
     
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  6. Rove

    Rove Soap Chat Star EXP: 3 Years

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    In a lot of ways I've found the introduction of technology has killed the enjoyment of character driven TV Series. Why speak with someone when a text will do. Creating a series today without incorporating smartphones into the picture would be a challenge however they are here to stay, so, a clever writer will not avoid the issue but somehow allow it to enhance a series without feeling technology has taken over. I still enjoy watching the expressions on people when they engage with each other. It's why the guys behind Stranger Things were clever in setting the series prior to the birth of mobile phones and the internet.

    This is why - in part - I'd advocate to tell a new story of Dallas, perhaps set in the era of the American Civil War and involving the Southworth family. This way we have an immediate connection to the series.

    Just an idea.
     
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  7. Kenny Coyote

    Kenny Coyote Soap Chat Enthusiast EXP: 12 Years

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    I wasn't old enough when I started watching Dallas to be going out to bars anyway; I was just a kid. I actually enjoyed watching it with my family at that time - Dallas was one thing we all liked. Later on when I was in high school if I was going out on a Friday night, someone would videotape it or I'd set the timer on the VCR to record it. In college nobody stayed in on Friday nights, but nothing really got started until at least 10:00 anyway, so I could watch Dallas and then go out.

    I am so glad I grew up in a time where there was no internet; I think our generation had more fun than the kids today. The internet made it so you can find anything you want at the click of a few keys, but it's too easy; that's not good. Before, if you were really interested in something you had to go out and look for it, actually do some work, but then you were really experiencing it. You had to figure out more things for yourself and have more of an imagination.

    You mention how you could open a conversation with "So, who do YOU think shot J.R.?" Now there isn't anything that's equivalent of that because we've got hundreds of channels and thousands of shows, so everybody is watching something different. We had the three big networks and later, FOX with its 2 or 3 shows, so we watched a lot of the same shows and it gave people something in common they could talk about. People have less in common with each other now, regarding a lot more than just TV, so the overall effect has been divisive.
     
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  8. Miss Texas 1967

    Miss Texas 1967 Soap Chat Well-Known Member EXP: 5 Years

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    A few ideas:
    • Anytime a character left town to get away from the drama in Dallas and was kept in the dark because the local newspapers didn't report on Dallas news, not impossible anymore but not as easy
    • There were a few instances where surveillance footage/electronic info could have come in handy to resolving a plot quicker, but that would have ruined the story. For example, Kristin/Katherine going into Ewing Oil would have likely been caught on camera in the lobby if not on the floor Ewing Oil's offices are located on and although at some point you'd assume they always needed a key to get into an office at night, there's likely a log somewhere in modern systems now that doesn't exist when a physical key is used
    • Not so much cellphones and internet but more the DNA testing kits that are widely available and/or the better DNA testing techniques science has developed since the 80s would have made the Pam/Cliff/Digger/Rebecca plot simpler, the JR/John Ross plot simpler, the JR/James plot clearer and the Jock/Ray plot more complicated.
     
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  9. tommie

    tommie Soap Chat Mega Star EXP: 3 Years

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    To be fair, there's been quite a few storylines that adresses these issues - today you'd have Kristin stealing someone's pass card (Bobby's?) and either she'd somehow disconnect the security cameras or disguise herself enough so that they can't tell that it's her, especially since a lot of places don't keep up with the latest technology so the images produced would be blurry especially at night.
     
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  10. Angela Channing

    Angela Channing World Cup of Soaps Moderator EXP: 21 Years

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    With just a minor adjustment to storylines, old plots could be made to work today. There would be a lot of "I left my cell phone at Southfork/the office/at April's apartment while I was shagging her", "my cell phone battery has run out" or "why can't I get I wifi signal in here".
     
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  11. Richard Channing

    Richard Channing Soap Chat Star EXP: 6 Years

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    Whose laptop is found dead in the pool could be a good end of season cliffhanger.
     
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  12. tommie

    tommie Soap Chat Mega Star EXP: 3 Years

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    I know you are joking, but every now and then we have stories about people who keep their entire work on a laptop without backing it up - of course, sometimes it's just a sham, but surprisingly a lot of time it's not.

    Although to be fair, if you're doing something mega shady you're not going to back it up on a Cloud account at least I guess.
     
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2019
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  13. stevew

    stevew Soap Chat TV Fanatic EXP: 8 Years

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    But PI’s are still needed. They just must come with a lot more tech savvy, or someone on their payroll who can hack.
     
  14. Lastkidpicked

    Lastkidpicked Soap Chat Addict EXP: 11 Years

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    Very good point, and I hadn't thought about that.

    Oh, PI's are definitely still needed. The difference is today you would see a PI get the information quickly, but back in the day the research could span several episodes. This allowed the writers to take us down one path, then find out we were wrong and then go down another path. Similar to finding out gradually that a new character is not as first appeared.
     
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  15. Kenny Coyote

    Kenny Coyote Soap Chat Enthusiast EXP: 12 Years

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    I was just thinking, imagine if at the time Dallas was on the air, the internet had already been invented. Imagine how many members this board would have had then (circa seasons 3 and 4) and the immense amount of posting that would be going on here!

    As for another plotline that wouldn't have worked if there'd been cell phones and internet is the one that took place in the time period when Jock was in South America and they rarely were able to get in contact with him because either they couldn't get a good connection, or he was in an area with no phones. If Jock had had a cell phone he could have been reached just about whenever they needed to talk to him.

    That could have changed quite a bit of what was going on at that time in Dallas. Ellie could have easily called Jock and discussed JR's strategy for getting John Ross back on Southfork: Buying up all the oil that was supposed to be sold to Clayton's refineries. Jock could have either said yes, support JR on that or said he was against it and let her do what she wanted to do - to have the oil JR was stockpiling sold to Clayton.

    It might have affected the decision to create that system of voting shares where every member of the family got some percentage of Ewing Oil and could vote for who they wanted to run Ewing Oil during Jock's absence.

    Having cellphones would have changed not just storylines, but one of the major features of the show - that phone at the bottom of the stairs that everyone in the family used and anyone calling any member of the family used. Someone would call JR, for instance, but Lucy or Sue Ellen would answer the phone and then tell JR he had a phone call. So Ewing family members were much more aware of who was calling whom than if they'd each had their own cell phone.
     
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2020
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  16. Lastkidpicked

    Lastkidpicked Soap Chat Addict EXP: 11 Years

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    Yes! And here is something else that is funny now:

    When you watch Dallas, you can tell who is very important because the waiter will bring the phone over to the table and say, "You have an important phone call, Mr. Ewing."

    They used this several times throughout the series. It really showed how important you were.
     
  17. Lastkidpicked

    Lastkidpicked Soap Chat Addict EXP: 11 Years

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    There are a few members here from when Soapnet was airing Dallas each afternoon. I believe it was around 2004.

    You wouldn't believe how hopping this board was during that time! You would log in and see something like this:

    @James from London : Yesterday, J.R. shut down Ewing 23 and we need to talk about it.

    And since we had all just seen that episode the day before on Soapnet, we all jumped in on the discussion. During the battle for Ewing Oil, you almost couldn't get your post in, the place was so lively.

    Good times. . .
     
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  18. Miss Texas 1967

    Miss Texas 1967 Soap Chat Well-Known Member EXP: 5 Years

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    Didn't they sort of do this? I remember quite a few one sided phone calls, one being where JR committed to getting John Ross by whatever means necessary and another being a scene where Miss Ellie said Jock had called and JR was disappointed she hadn't let him speak too and Miss Ellie said that the line was bad.
     
  19. Kenny Coyote

    Kenny Coyote Soap Chat Enthusiast EXP: 12 Years

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    I didn't know there even was a Soapchat back in 2004, but then again, I wasn't looking for one. I do remember though that back around the late 90s and early 2000s, internet discussion boards were a lot more "lively" as you said. Remember "e-groups"? You'd join a discussion group and you received all the replies in your email. Then they changed the name to Yahoo groups for some reason. I don't think they even exist anymore do they? Does anyone know what happened to them?

    So this place was really that lively back then. Well, Dallas was a relatively much more recent show then too. Dallas is over 40 years old now! I'm surprised anybody is still posting about it! You must have had a lot more people who participated back then. Now we're down to just the really hardcore base - everyone else has left. Do you think our Dallas board is coming to an end?
     
  20. Kenny Coyote

    Kenny Coyote Soap Chat Enthusiast EXP: 12 Years

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    When Miss Ellie found out JR was stockpiling Clayton's oil, she told JR if Jock were there he would never have permitted that, she said she couldn't forgive JR and that Jock wouldn't forgive him either.

    Then she instigated a vote resulting in Bobby becoming temporary co-president of Ewing Oil. If they'd been able to communicate with Jock when needed and not have to deal with the bad connections, and times when Jock wasn't near a phone, none of that would have had to have happened. They'd have just called Jock and told him what the situation was. Ellie didn't know what Jock would think; she was just assuming that he'd think that. It would have changed the story considerably if Miss Ellie could have simply called Jock and asked him whether he approved or disapproved of what JR did. Since they had no reliable way to call Jock, they had to rely on that convoluted voting share system in which people who had never even worked in the oil business were voting on who should run Ewing Oil.
     
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