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Times the writers took a character too far

Discussion in 'Dallas - The Original Series' started by Lastkidpicked, Feb 17, 2020.

  1. Lastkidpicked

    Lastkidpicked Soap Chat Addict EXP: 12 Years

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    As many of you know, we are doing a re-watch of the series and just saw a scene where we said, "Okay. That's just too far and we can't go along with this."

    Here is the scene:

    John Ross and Christopher are swimming in the Southfork pool and have a swimming race. John Ross wins but Christopher is quite vocal that John Ross cheated.

    Later on, John Ross feels guilty, and confesses to J.R. that he cheated. We really thought J.R. would take this as a teachable moment, but instead he tells John Ross that it's okay that he cheated because he won.

    I have to say, we all said "The writers took this one too far. I know we love to watch the Magnificent Bastard in action but telling his 10 year old son that cheating is good as long as he wins is just too much and we wish they hadn't done that."

    So, my question is:

    Can you think of any other times the writers took a character too far?
     
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  2. Sarah

    Sarah Super Moderator EXP: 21 Years Staff Member

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    One that immediately springs to mind is the ludicrous writing that JR would leave Sue Ellen to marry Kimberley Cryder. I don't believe for a second even HE would have gone that far.

    Stupid stupid stupid.
     
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  3. Snarky's Ghost

    Snarky's Ghost Soap Chat Oracle EXP: 19 Years

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    On the contrary, that is totally JR. Which is why people who insist JR is "a wonderful father" are just whistling passed the oil field.
     
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  4. Taylor Bennett Jr.

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

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    I thought by the middle seasons, they'd overdone the transition of Cliff from his original intelligent, sometimes decent (as in how he handled being the middleman in Bobby's kidnapping) if overly-obsessed character to an irredeemably self-centered buffoon.
     
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  5. Lastkidpicked

    Lastkidpicked Soap Chat Addict EXP: 12 Years

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    This is another of the characters whom they changed mid stream. It is easy to forget that Cliff started out as a scrappy lawyer who put himself through law school.
     
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  6. TJames03

    TJames03 Soap Chat TV Fanatic EXP: 10 Years

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    When they made Pam’s sole existence to be only to carry Bobby’s child.....
     
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  7. Kenny Coyote

    Kenny Coyote Soap Chat Enthusiast EXP: 12 Years

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    Bobby's actions in the last episode of season three, based around moving away to California, were so out of character and so disappointing that it's my first choice for this. He didn't even tell Lucy he was moving. She walked past him that morning on her way to school and he didn't tell her anything about it. Pam wanted to at least say goodbye to Jock and Miss Ellie and Bobby told Pam "No, you wait in the car." He just acted like such a dick! And most of it, according to him, was because JR and Jock agreed to not cut Cliff in on the income from Ewing 23. Jock said "There's no way that man could ever be a partner of mine." I'd have felt the same way in his position.

    They took Bobby's character 180 degrees from just two episodes before when at Jock's trial (because a skeleton was found underneath Southfork land) Bobby and JR were talking about what Cliff had done to them by instigating the whole process and JR said that whichever way the trial ended up, he was going to run Cliff out of the state of Texas when it was over. Bobby replied that JR would have to get in line behind him.
     
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  8. Kenny Coyote

    Kenny Coyote Soap Chat Enthusiast EXP: 12 Years

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    Was there a specific scene you recall where you remember thinking: This is going too far with the character?

    Or was it so gradual that no specific moment stands out?
     
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  9. Taylor Bennett Jr.

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

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    *sorry, double post!*
     
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  10. Taylor Bennett Jr.

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

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    I guess it was gradual - if anything it accelerated to the next level after his suicide attempt, so maybe that had an effect on his personality, but he’d been building to it, especially once he got a taste of wealth via his long-lost mother.

    In general, I felt both Cliff and Pam pretty much lost all trace of being the kids who grew up on the wrong side of the tracks once Rebecca entered the picture (cheap Chinese takeout notwithstanding). Pam living in that mansion with a full-time maid and just Christopher part-time was like a completely different person than the one who collected her things from her modest apartment in Digger’s Daughter.
     
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  11. Kenny Coyote

    Kenny Coyote Soap Chat Enthusiast EXP: 12 Years

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    It is hard to point out a specific moment where you think, Cliff has lost it. I agree that it was his mother giving him that big oil company that either accelerated his decline, or highlighted flaws that had been somewhat hidden.

    I think it was Jamie who said that Cliff was more lovable as a loser and that with wealth he had become insufferable.

    Regarding Cliff and Pam losing a lot of their original identities when Rebecca entered the picture, I agree with that too. Cliff's character was so adamant against Pam trying to find her mother, and he was so bitter towards her abandoning them (and rightfully so) that there was no way they could have had Cliff not only forgive his mother but love her as much as he did, without fundamentally changing the character. I find it incredible that after being forgiven for something as drastic as abandoning her young children, and pretending to not be their mother when Pam first found her, that she'd have the gall to not forgive Cliff for embezzling some money that wasn't going to affect her lifestyle at all. He didn't exactly lose her life's savings. She just couldn't get over the principle of it, that her son who grew up motherless and with an alcoholic father from age 5, could have grown up unprincipled! Rebecca may have been the most vile character to exist in the first 8 years of Dallas.

    I'm trying to think of something she did well:

    1. Being a good mother to Pam: She tried but only after her meal ticket died. With her inheritance safely in her purse, she finally made an attempt, but failed miserably by favoring Cliff over Pam.

    2. Being a good mother to Cliff: First she disowns him for his lack of principles, and then rewards his suicide attempt with a present worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Notice she chose the one specific gift that would enable him to pursue a vendetta that would adversely affect him, Pam and Christopher.

    3. Raising Katherine - no explanation necessary

    4. Being a friend to Miss Ellie: She did things like arrive at her home unannounced and said "I've come here to warn you that the Barnes-Ewing feud is still going" and then adding something to the effect that she would "destroy" Ellie's son. "How To Win Friends And Raise Children by Rebecca Burke aka Rebecca Wentworth aka Rebecca Barnes aka the woman who was modeled on a combination of the evil stepmother in Cinderella and the wicked witch in The Wizard Of Oz." Having the munchkins appear and sing "Ding-Dong The Witch Is Dead" when Rebecca died would have been tasteless, yet oddly appropriate.
     
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  12. Kenny Coyote

    Kenny Coyote Soap Chat Enthusiast EXP: 12 Years

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    I was trying to think of when they took JR's character too far and I think I know when he did the first thing that I thought was in bad taste: It was the revenge scene with Holly Harwood. She'd specifically done exactly what he told her not to do - talk about his involvement with her company - and told the military of all people. JR got his revenge by raping Holly. It was just too much. I don't see any upside to taking a risk like that for the show. Why do that with such a popular character? As a viewer, it's not the type of thing I'd choose to watch.

    They seem to have limits until then: Two things JR would never do are commit murder or rape. That's why people could enjoy the character. He committed more than his fair share of unsavory acts, but even he had lines he wouldn't cross. By 1978 people were tired of the completely noble, heroic figure. They were ready to cheer a bad guy, and would, as long as he was a cool bad guy. That scene took JR outside that description.

    I imagine they regretted it afterwards because they did what they could to lessen the impact of it. They downplayed the psychological trauma being raped caused her. She bought a gun and that was about the extent of it. She didn't cry, her confidence wasn't shaken, she didn't start self-destructing or otherwise show damaging effects as a result of being raped. That she found it physically possible to have sex with JR after what he'd done to her downplayed the traumatic effects you'd expect she would have sustained.

    Usually, they'd maximize the effect of JR's actions. They generally tried to make them look as devastating as possible. That they did the exact opposite this time tells me they regretted what they'd chosen to do with the character.
     
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  13. Sarah

    Sarah Super Moderator EXP: 21 Years Staff Member

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    I don't actually give a crap about Holly (at all) but are you referring to her popularity, or JR's? It's interesting to read about a pov concerning Holly @Kenny Coyote - I give very little thought to her as I really don't care, but it's interesting that you've taken the time, interesting to read that.

    I would not excuse rape but I really can't feel any sympathy for Holly, in how she processed or dealt with anything afterwards. Rape aside (if that's what it was), she brought everything on herself, considering Sue Ellen nearly died as a consequence of her actions. I don't in any way view her as a popular character but I do agree that having JR rape is a bit much. I don't want to view him like that, although to me Holly more of gave in to him, rather than it being rape. Maybe Holly is, as I strongly suspect, devoid of any human emotion. I don't think how she was written was poor, or that the writers went too far. I think she was written and behaved how she was supposed to.
     
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  14. Kenny Coyote

    Kenny Coyote Soap Chat Enthusiast EXP: 12 Years

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    I'm referring to JR's popularity when I say why would you take a risk like that with such a popular character? I don't see the potential upside to taking that risk - only downside. I went on to explain why it appears to me that the producers of the show realized they had taken JR too far by raping Holly.

    You have a valid point that you saw it as Holly giving in to him since we never saw a rape take place. I interpreted it as he raped her but we all have our own imagination to use as to what happened, since they didn't show it.
     
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  15. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Winner EXP: 18 Years

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    I didn't feel like that was the show going too far. If anything, I would like to have seen more scenes of JR screwing up his son - I felt it would have been true to the dysfunctional nature of his character and the Ewing family as a whole - but I can accept people might have found that difficult to watch at the time, and looking back, I can now appreciate the sweetness of JR's scenes with Omri Katz's version of John Ross on their own terms. And I really like the way New DALLAS redressed the balance - JR and Sue Ellen both acknowledging that they had screwed up as John Ross's parents. There was something kind of honest about that.

    Made sense to me.

    I found that scene very powerful, very moving. I felt like that conflict in Bobby, between his loyalty to his family and his own sense of morality, had been established early on and this was the pay off to it.

    I felt this was in keeping with who JR was. It was a terrible thing he did, but I wouldn't have wanted them not to show it. It would have been a dilution of his character.

    Great, dehumanise her and then you can't call it rape because she's just an object.
     
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  16. Sarah

    Sarah Super Moderator EXP: 21 Years Staff Member

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    Don’t twist my words to match your usual decades old vendetta against me @James from London - to this day I have no idea what I ever did to you!


    I made it very clear and was careful to highlight that in my post I wasn't condoning rape - regardless, I didn't think it was because I thought she consented?

    My comments also merely stated how I believed Holly felt about it, rape or not. Maybe not put as eloquently as you but we can’t all be perfect. But saying I don't care if she was raped or not because I didn't like her isn't acceptable. I simply didn't think she was raped.

    I would never dehumanise a rape - if you’d read what I said you would see that. But you never want to because for years you’ve been hell bent on picking on my opinion and what I say here. Maybe practice what you preach.

    It isn't a scene I am particularly fond of watching, maybe I’m not objective enough, so will look again if it will keep you happy and free from your usual criticism of everything I say. But then I'm just a mod so it's clear I'm just an object too without opinion.

    Thanks for clarifying your words Kenny!
     
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  17. Kenny Coyote

    Kenny Coyote Soap Chat Enthusiast EXP: 12 Years

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    If he's concerned about his morality, then how about preserving his integrity? Does he value his word? Does he expect anyone to think his word means something? He said he'd run Cliff out of Texas two weeks earlier and what did he do? He ran away! I lie a guy who says what he means and means what he says.

    I know some people love to see shows that have shows entirely dedicated to the concept of the more dysfunction, the better. I've never found any appeal in them. I think those shows are designed to show miserable people: "Look! There's someone even more screwed up than you!" Maybe that makes them feel better about themselves to see someone else as bad off or worse off than they are. That's such a foreign mentality to me. I don't "get it" and I don't want to.

    I enjoy seeing the good as well as the bad in human nature portrayed. Seeing a character do the necessary work to overcome the weaknesses in his character and improve himself is something I like to see. That's what made Dan Scott one the most compelling character in TV history. What they did with his character in One Tree Hill was brilliant. I'd like to have seen a story of JR becoming a better man as well - not a worse man. They took the negative direction and stripped him of his efficacy. That really pulled in the big ratings, didn't it?

    I found nothing "honest" about that failed project. There was some good acting that I enjoyed, but the story was so dishonest that I don't know that describing its use if the Dallas name as fraudulent would be an exaggeration. Cynthia Cidre prostituted the Dallas name to ensure she'd get a lot of publicity, a good sized budget, and a big audience for at least the first episode of her project. What an absolute mess of a woman. She underestimated the loyalty of the Dallas fans and wound up losing half her audience in a week.
     
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  18. Jimmy Todd

    Jimmy Todd Soap Chat Addict EXP: 1 Year

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    The way that JR raped Holly and Laurel is true to his character, blackmail and manipulation through power. That way when JR reads a story in the paper about a more overtly violent rapist he can be as horrified as everyone else without seeing himself in such a story. He rationalizes his act as not being "real rape" and Holly and Laurel were just "whores." I think this is as far as the show could push JR without him becoming unwatchable.
    I liked the storyline with Holly because it added great drama in my favorite season of the series. I also thought Lois Chiles did a great job of playing a pampered woman suddenly thrust into a situation over her head after her father died and inheriting his company. She then got even deeper than she could have imagined by getting involved with JR. She had no idea things would spin as out of control as they did. This is not excusing her actions, but one can understand them better. I liked when she came back in season 7 and told Bobby it was a long time before she could like herself again. This shows she has some conscience.
    It was also a nice touch a few seasons later when April mentioned her to Bobby and he responded, "Holly? She left Dallas a few years ago. She moved to Calcutta to work with Mother Teresa."
    Holly certainly wasn't good for Sue Ellen, but she was good for Linda Grey. She allowed her to deliver some of her best acting ever, imho.
     
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  19. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Winner EXP: 18 Years

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    I can't say any of those questions ever troubled me watching this story.

    That can be good, but I also like a bit of ambiguity, especially in drama.

    I don't really mind if a character gets "better" or "worse" or more or less stays the same, or some combination of all three, so long as it's interesting to watch.

    I don't remember that line!
     
  20. Kenny Coyote

    Kenny Coyote Soap Chat Enthusiast EXP: 12 Years

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    Committing rape wasn't any more true to JR's character than committing murder was, until the episode where he probably raped Holly. I don't know since I didn't see it, but to me there was a heavy implication he raped her. Not everyone sees it the same way which is understandable since it was left to our imaginations what actually happened.

    Laurel wasn't raped. Laurel was given an opportunity. JR said if she did a favor for him, he'd do a favor for Clayton. She was free to accept or decline. I find it diminishes the seriousness of rape when the word is thrown around in that way, when actual rape victims would have loved to have been able to say "I decline" and have it end right there.



     
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