What went wrong -- and right -- with DALLAS?

Discussion in 'Dallas Season Reviews' started by Snarky's Ghost, Nov 28, 2016.

  1. Snarky's Ghost

    Snarky's Ghost Soap Chat Oracle

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    Going by DVD seasonal count:

    Season 1 (the 'mini-series'):

    With new violence restrictions pushing down the Nielsen ratings on the shoot-em-up cops shows of the 1970s, and the advent of the mini-series convincing TV executives that a serialized saga might in fact work in a weekly series format, David Jacobs created the story of the corrupt, oil-rich Ewing family of Southfork Ranch in fictional Braddock, Texas, just outside of DALLAS.

    A five episode pilot was ordered (what came to be called "The Miniseries" by fans and people connected to the show, but was never intended to be a miniseries per se) and by the final episode, airing on Sunday nights in April of 1978, DALLAS had entered the Top Ten. CBS immediately ordered a full season based on those numbers.

    Filmed on location in the winter of '78, the miniseries has a nice, shrouded, melancholy flavor to it in keeping with the era, and, although still a bit coltish and unsure in tone, there was one thing which became vividly assured: the eldest Ewing brother, "J.R." (played by Larry Hagman), was going to be the star of this thing.

    Season 2:

    As the first full season commences, the audience is introduced to a new house in the role of Southfork (the one still used today) and without explanation, consistent with how these switches used to be made in television in the '60s and '70s.

    The show itself offers an endearing, disco-era crassness to the viewer, a period tackiness which, at least in retrospect, doesn't always work. Also, the plotting is still only semi-serialized (as the network brass seems to have forgotten that PEYTON PLACE had already proven back in the mid-'60s that you could indeed do full-fledged soap in primetime and the audience wouldn't get lost). The result? The occasional episode like "Runaway" (when Lucy, played by Charlene Tilton, upset her black sheep parents wont be invited to her birthday party, takes off with her guitar and a napsack and is kidnapped by Greg Evigan) comes off as a tad foolish, amateurish.

    And yet, something is brewing here. Jock and Miss Ellie (Jim Davis and Barbara Bel Geddes) are convincing as the 40+ years married patriarch and matriarch, as is Sue Ellen (Linda Gray) as the wildly neurotic and self-absorbed alcoholic wife of J.R.; Bobby (Patrick Duffy) is the more-or-less good brother in the family, whose marriage to the family rival's daughter, Pam (curvaceous Victoria Principal), sets the stage for what's to come.

    By later in the 1978-79 Season, however, DALLAS is given the greenlight by CBS to fully serialize the plotlines, and the show is moved to Friday nights where it will remain -- at least in the States -- for the next dozen years.

    For a while, Bobby and Pam's relationship will be defined by Pam's impotent anxiety over the conflicts between her embittered and crusading brother, Cliff Barnes (Ken Kercheval) and her new inlaws, as well as by the new couple's petty squabbling about each others' work hours. But it's the nasty maritial bond between J.R. and Sue Ellen which really takes off immediately, especially when J.R. learns that his wife has been sleeping with Pam's brother on the sly and that Cliff may have fathered her unborn child. Tossed into an asylum, drunken sot Sue Ellen escapes, crashes into a telephone poll, and delivers the baby in the emergency room.

    This is uncommon material for a nighttime TV show up until that point in time. And it's done with a certain downmarket bravura, with Hagman's portrait of the grinning, scheming CEO of Ewing Oil its centerpiece.

    DALLAS finishes out the Spring of 1979 safely in the Nielsen Top 10.

    Season 3:

    As the new season opens, Sue Ellen's baby has been kidnapped. But once returned, the new mother shows little interest in her offspring. J.R. puts on a better act for the family, but he and his troubled wife will only truly embrace tiny John Ross once paternity tests demanded by Cliff Barnes prove once and for all that the child is indeed J.R.'s.

    Meanwhile, it's Cliff sister, Pam, who begins her own tour of torment as she learns that her father, "Digger" Barnes (David Wayne/Keenan Wynn) is dying of a rare neurological disease which is guaranteed to be inherited by their offspring. Suffering her second miscarriage in less than two years, Pam and Bobby begin rejecting each others' advances and bury themselves deeper and deeper into work, Pam terrified that even if she were able to carry a child full term, it would meet the same fate that her and Cliff's two dead infant siblings once did.

    J.R. then embarks on an affair with his wife's sister, Kristin (Mary Crosby, spawn of Bing), which develops quietly in the background all season.

    After Jock's heart attack the previous year and Miss Ellie's recent mastectomy, the grandparents' marriage is tested and pulled to the breaking point, leading Ellie to flirt with swollen and aging Texas executives she doesn't have to sleep with.

    By season's end, a body is found buried on Southfork with Jock the suspected culprit, and Pam learns from a deathbed "Digger" that she's the bastard love child of his wife Rebecca and a ne'er-do-well cowpoke boyfriend whom "Digger" then murdered; she doesn't have to worry about neurofibromatosis manifesting itself in her prospective children, but now Pam no longer knows who she is.

    The season has gelled nicely, the pacing quite good. Melodrama aside, as the series has developed, there are times when the clouds of darkness seem to almost eerily envelop Southfork -- particularly at night, as the Ewing family would gather together for a drink in the livingroom or share strange jabs over dinner, the sense of catastrophe hovering in the air whenever the Texas sun dipped below the horizon. The viewer is beginning to feel as if these people were almost real, players in some lost chapter from the Old Testament... Cain & Carol & Abel & Alice... These folks are going to Hell --- at least some of 'em --- and you can tell as much by how it all feels as by what the characters do; the mood effectively enhanced by the frequent use of Bruce Brougton's background music, rich with plaintive portend.

    The show is now in the Top 5 for the 1979-80 year. But it's how the season ends which will change the medium of television for ever: a mysterious gunman wanders into the Ewing Oil offices late at night and plugs two slugs into J.R.'s body.

    At this point, just about anybody could be the would-be-assassin.

    Season 4:

    It was the hottest summer in a hundred years in many parts of America, and a long and bitter actors' strike would delay the fall 1980 television season. But that didn't dampen the "Who Shot J.R.?" hysteria which literally blanketed the globe. No one, including the producers, could have anticipated that the cliffhanger they'd essentially thrown together at the last minute of J.R. getting shot would become the international sensation that it did. But in an era where serialization, cliffhangers, wealthy core characters, and villains in key roles were essentially unheard of (if not verboten) for primetime, DALLAS and "Who Shot J.R.?" had become unprecedented phenomena around the world... "Who Shot J.R.?" was so big that it became one of the two or three biggest news stories of the calendar year of 1980, despite being fiction!

    It was everywhere.

    When J.R.'s assailant was named in the fourth episode of the season, airing on 21 November 1980 (and 17 years almost to the day after another real-life Dallas shooting), the installment garnered the highest rating of any primetime entertainment episode in the medium's history, pulling in 85 million viewers in America alone (the 1983 finale of M*A*S*H would later top it).

    Pundits predicted that after the outrageousness of "Who Shot J.R.?" and its excessive media coverage had waned, we could expect DALLAS to quickly become a mere Trivial Pursuit question within just a couple of years.

    This could easily have happened. But the producers were smart enough to understand that another "Who Shot J.R.?" was impossible. It was a once-in-a-lifetime event and couldn't be replicated. So the writers simply focused on telling their story, continuing the relationships among the denizens of Southfork Ranch.

    That's not to say there were no problems after J.R.'s shooter was safely shipped off to California to protect J.R. from scandal. The show's plotlines were adequate that season, with Jock learning he'd fathered ranch hand Ray Krebbs (Steve Kanaly) during a WW2 romance, convalescing J.R. scheming to cut Bobby out of Ewing Oil after his younger brother took the corporate reins, Lucy becoming engaged to a handsome car-hop/medical student, Pam in search of her long-lost mother, Sue Ellen embarking on new illicit relationships while being tracked by a former lover, J.R.'s cat-and-mouse romance with wily public relations agent Leslie Stewart, and Jock and Miss Ellie nearing divorce as her anger brews over Jock's inclusion of Ray in a trust fund while he continues to ignore their rejected son, Gary (Ted Shackleford), now in California and his own spin-off, KNOTS LANDING.

    Yet despite Texas tall ratings, there is a drabness to the season. Sure, DALLAS is still Number One (by a large margin) in America and around the world, but the storylines feel pedestrian, by rote. It's probably the execution more than the ideas, but Southfork is quickly becoming a pretty sleepy place to be. It's all fairly competent, but the show feels a little bored with itself.

    To add insult to injury, due to a composers' strike at Lorimar productions, the first fourteen episodes of the season are forced to re-use deathly repetitive stock music over and over, which only serves to literally and figuratively underscore the show's present ambivalence.

    Season 5:

    With Jim Davis' death in the spring of 1981 and a Hollywood writers' strike that summer preventing scripts from being significantly re-written, the decision is made to delay the death of Davis' character, Jock Ewing, until midway thru the new season, opening the year on the mystery of The Girl in the Pool (and, more importantly, who may have killed her), while family members chat with an unseen Jock on the phone in an unnamed South American country.

    Now separated, Sue Ellen is living on the Southern Cross Ranch in San Angelo with her sexually dysfunctional lover, rodeo star Dusty Farlow, and his father, Clayton (Howard Keel). After several risky maneuvers to put the Farlows into financial jeapordy in order to get them to toss Sue Ellen out and to get his toddler son back, J.R. is pressured by Miss Ellie to go easy on Sue Ellen during the divorce proceedings. Meanwhile, despite having located her mother, Rebecca, last season, Pam's inability to have a healthy child sends her onto the rooftop of her job site and then into a mental institution.

    The family is crushed to learn from a phonecall received during the annual Southfork barbecue that Jock may be dead from a helicopter crash in South America, leading his three Texas sons, J.R., Bobby and Ray, to mount a search for the patriarch in the jungle -- that search yielding only Jock's medallion as evidence of his presence and his passing. Devastated by the loss, J.R. mounts a new campaign to win back his son, John Ross, and to destroy his rival in business and love, Cliff Barnes, who once again has been romancing his ex-wife Sue Ellen, setting up Cliff in a bogus land deal in order to destroy him and get him fired from Wentworth Tool & Die, the company his prodigal mother gave him to run.

    Just as bad, Ray's politically savvy wife, Donna Culver Krebbs, has written an expose of her late, first husband, Sam Culver. Only her research has turned up some ugly facts about his old dealings with Jock which displease immensely his widow, Miss Ellie, who has yet to process Jock's death.

    An unhappily married Lucy dallies with modeling and embarks in a brief but dangerous affair with a photographer who turns out to be a psycho-stalker. Once Lucy is predictably absconded with by the maniac, Auntie Pam, now out of the mental hospital and cuddling an adorably obese baby that Bobby had actually brought home to J.R. (thinking it's J.R.'s child via his ex-sister in law, the decedent Kristin), realizes that the photographer must be the kidnapper and all is saved.

    Again, this season is sufficient. And it's certainly more interesting than much of what was on TV at the very start of the '80s. But there's still something uninspired about its progression --- lots of helicopter shots of J.R. landing at the Southern Cross, lots of phonecalls about J.R. setting up the Farlows and then Cliff, lots of Sue Ellen's lip trembling even after she moves into her new townhouse and gets bored with singledom, lots of scenes in Miss Ellie's new architecturally nonsensical kitchen (which seemed to replace Jock's study), lots of scenes with J.R. and Ray tortured over Jock's death, lots of discussion about who can and should run Ewing Oil in Jock's absence and then death.

    Sure, all these things needed to happen. But it wasn't until about half-a-dozen episodes before the Spring 1982 cliffhanger (in which Cliff Barnes attempts suicide) that DALLAS seems to re-gain that gleam in its eye. Perhaps it's the increasing influence of new story editor David Paulsen. That seems likely. But DALLAS suddenly feels cohesive and motivated for the first time in a while.

    Even Victoria Principal's acting has woken up. She walked through countless scenes during the first four years of the show almost like a zombie -- a zombie who too often swallowed her own lines and wanted too much to be "liked" by the audience, only coming to life when Pam was angry. But now, after the dregs of her Meadowbrook Institute sanitorium stay (and perhaps acutely aware of the new competition from the already well-hyped ladies of DYNASTY, that show still in its second season and not yet sucking) Principal begins infusing her delivery with a certain contemptuous edge, even when the script doesn't require it. And it focuses her. And, as an actress, she'll never be lousy again.
     
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  2. Snarky's Ghost

    Snarky's Ghost Soap Chat Oracle

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    Season 6:

    With the on-staff influence of David Paulsen, the new season gets underway with a renewed energy and focus. J.R.’'s conspiracy against Cliff now revealed, the family votes him out of Ewing Oil, motivating J.R. to take over the running of Harwood Oil in order to mount his early plans for return to his own company. Ray and Donna venture to Kansas to attend the funeral of no-account Amos Krebbs, the man Ray once believed to be his father, and Ray then develops an adversarial father-son crush on the cousin he never knew he had, Mickey Trotter (Timothy Patrick Murphy) and takes the troubled boy back to Texas with him, much to Donna’'s consternation. Lucy also learns she'’s pregnant, the fetus sired by Roger, her rapist-kidnapper, and she pursues an abortion.

    Now out of the company, J.R. presses to have their daddy declared legally dead so his will can be opened. Once revealed, the will puts J.R. exactly where he wants to be: Jock has set up a year-long contest to see which brother, J.R. or Bobby, can make the most money for the company to determine which one will run Ewing Oil permanently --- and if one predeceases the other, the survivor takes all.

    “"Oh, Jock –-- no...!,"” his widow mutters to herself in disbelief during the reading.

    Indeed, the battle over Jock’s will will set up the season which would become perhaps the epicenter of the entire DALLAS series (“'Who Shot J.R.?'” notwithstanding) as the plot unfolds with such superb pacing and structure that virtually not a single sentence is uttered all year which doesn’t propel the story along.

    People were enraged that Sue Ellen, in a new mullet hairdo, would deign to re-marry J.R., but the irony isn’'t lost on the woman herself: without Southfork and being “"Mrs. J.R. Ewing",” the former Miss Texas just doesn’t know how to define herself, she confesses doomingly. Pam and Sue Ellen initially agree to not allow the newest chapter in their husbands' feud to affect their new-found friendship, but that wont be easy: Pam can’t stand by and watch Bobby pummeled by J.R.'’s dirty tricks, and Sue Ellen has never been very good about maintaining allegiance to friends when she’'s seemingly back in good graces with Southfork’'s cock-of-the-walk.

    J.R. uses blackmail to obtain an illegal variance to pump to full capacity, and then opens his own chain of cut-rate gas stations, shocking everybody; no, he won’t make much per barrel, but he’'ll make up for it in volume, flooding his half of the company with absurd short-term profits. Outraged, Bobby himself then blackmails a board member with the recently-formed Texas Energy Commission to rescind J.R.’'s variance.

    Appalled by the tactics both brothers are stooping to, and the resultant anger that the Dallas oil community is directing towards her family, Miss Ellie takes steps to have Jock’'s will overturned. But even her tortured attempts to have her beloved late husband declared mentally incompetent due to illness when he wrote the will'’s codicil in South America fail miserably: the court determines that the contest between Bobby and J.R. must stand as dictated by Jock.

    And the Barneses aren’t left out of the conflict. Feeling a bit guilty about firing her son, Rebecca (Priscilla Pointer) buys Luce Oil and gives it to Cliff to run -—- only this time, he has explicit permission to use it against J.R. in any way he chooses, upsetting sister Pam greatly. But when Cliff, distraught that his lovely girlfriend Afton (Audrey Landers) has used her body to help him in business, misses a flight to Houston to buy a refinery out from under J.R.’'s desperate nose, and Rebecca takes the flight instead and is killed when it crashes at Love Field, Pam takes her adopted baby, Christopher, and moves off of Southfork and into a downtown hotel, blaming the battle over Jock's will for her mother's death.

    J.R. is thrilled Pam is finally gone. And so is Pam’'s deceptive, demon-eyed half-sister, Katherine Wentworth (Morgan Brittany), who sets her sights on Bobby. While hunky playboy, Mark Graison (John Beck), continues his attempted seduction of the now-separated Pam Ewing.

    As life spirals out of control for the Ewings, inexperienced heiress Holly Harwood (Lois Chiles) uses ruthless measures to get J.R. out of her company, setting it up so Sue Ellen will find them in bed together. It works, and Sue Ellen turns to the bottle --- and to Clayton Farlow, who resists her inebriated boudoir offerings and takes her back to the ranch. Once there and soused again, Sue Ellen confronts J.R. about his infidelity; he denies the charge, and Sue Ellen goes rampaging out of the house and into J.R.'’s car. Lucy’'s new arrogant-but-vulnerable suitor, Ray'’s cousin Mickey, chivalrously jumps into the vehicle to save Sue Ellen from herself, but pays the ultimate price by being paralyzed forever after Sue Ellen is slammed into by an oncoming car at the end of the driveway at Braddock Road.

    Lucy is horrified that her new squeeze won’t be squeezing her anymore, Katherine and Bobby are horrified that Cliff has blocked the experimental use of the Wentworth drill bit which could unlock frozen oil reserves in Canada and save Bobby’'s chances of running Ewing Oil, and Ray is horrified to learn that the driver who'd creamed Mickey was none other than the Office of Land Management member whom J.R. had blackmailed to get his illegal pumping variance to begin with.

    Pam is the only one who can give the Wentworth drill bit to Bobby, but it comes with a price: she wants a divorce.

    In the final scene of the season, Ray confronts J.R. in the newly-refurbished Southfork living room about Mickey’'s permanent medical condition; a fight breaks out, candles set ablaze the surroundings, and J.R. is knocked cold by a falling ember in the upstairs hallway while attempting to save his wife and son from the consuming, hellish conflagration.

    Freeze-frame. Fade to black.

    This season epitomized everything that DALLAS did right when at its best. There is almost a fated Biblical inevitability about the goings on which lift the soap opera to a level of art. DALLAS had now transformed itself from the slightly-kitschy cartoon its started out to be, to an almost profound, weekly small screen epic.

    As actress Susan Howard would state, "DALLAS had become a great big morality play, one with all these wealthy people, possessing every advantage imaginable, stabbing away at each other, over and over again, for nothing."

    Well, “nothing” except huge ratings, in America and around the world. Even once-recalcitrant critics had come around to acknowledge that DALLAS told a very effective dramatic tale. Even legendary director Ingmar Bergman sung the show his praises, for heaven’s sake.

    What could possibly go wrong?

    Season 7:

    The new season opens with Bobby arriving to a blazing Southfork, he and Ray saving J.R., Sue Ellen and John Ross from the flames. Luckily, Miss Ellie has escaped Southfork with Clayton Farlow who had just whisked her away days earlier from all the tumult at home. Now holed up in a high-end hotel, J.R. tells the room service to refuse Sue Ellen liquor, and she later informs Clayton that now that she knows that Mickey’s accident is supposedly not her fault, she can stop drinking.

    Even J.R. is stunned by recent events, but when he and Bobby meet at lawyer Harve Smithfield’'s office to sincerely discuss ending the battle over Ewing Oil, Harve lets them know that doing so would allow either of them to file suit later over the issue. No. The fight between Jock’s sons must continue.

    Then more tragedy: Mickey begs to be euthanized, and then flatlines in his hospital room with Ray and Mickey'’s mother, Aunt Lil, inside. Lucy is numb, Aunt Lil is creepily silent, and J.R. delights in the idea that his “half-breed” brother may be thrown into prison for murder. As it turns out, Aunt Lil begged Ray to pull the plug as per Mickey'’s earlier request. Ray gets off with probation for being so sympathetic.

    And the final denouement. J.R. and Bobby meet with Harve Smithfield and Jock'’s best pal, Punk Anderson, over the final profit tally from the previous year. But before that can be done, a letter from Jock is read to the brothers, their father asking, post-mortem, for them to put their fight aside and to run the company together, no matter who wins the contest. J.R., confident that he’'s the victor, immediately begins wriggling out of the confines of the letter, asking if it is legally binding and obviously pleased that it is not --- until the result is read: Bobby’'s Canadian field has just come in. He has won all of Ewing Oil.

    But Bobby agrees to share control with his unscrupulous brother. Just as Daddy requested.

    Much of the 1983-84 season has an appropriate '“morning after”' look and feel to it. Now that the apocalyptic battle between the brothers has ended, the year focuses on new or renewed romances: Sue Ellen and much younger camp counselor, Peter Richards (Chris Atkins); Bobby and first love, Jenna Wade (Priscilla Presley); Pam giving herself over to Mark Graison despite still loving Bobby; and Katherine’'s predatory pursuit of Pam’'s ex-husband.

    Adding to the effective, reflective tone of the season is the striking cinematography by new D.P., Bradford May: all of a sudden, the downtown offices and the rooms at Southfork no longer look like the flat-lighted studio sets they once did, and now appear instead like real rooms in a real house. As a result, there has never been a stronger sense of place to Southfork. So much so that there is almost a loudness, a resonance, even to the silences. Both this and the vivid narrative give DALLAS a new level of artistic maturity it’'s never reached before, and weekly ratings seem to show that the audience approves.

    As the year proceeds, J.R. tries to find Clayton’'s mysterious sister before he can marry Miss Ellie as announced; J.R. tries to bankrupt Cliff Barnes in wildly expensive offshore drilling --- which winds up backfiring on J.R. big time; J.R. frames Sue Ellen'’s new man-child boyfriend for cocaine possession; and Clayton’'s sister, Lady Jessica Montford (Alexis Smith), turns out to be batsh!t crazy and kidnaps Miss Ellie and drives her halfway across Texas in the trunk of her car to prevent the marriage to Clayton.

    In the final frame, an unseen assailant once again strides into the Ewing Oil offices, and fires into the back of J.R.'’s chair. Only this time, it’'s brother Bobby who falls to the floor, bloody and unconscious.

    Four long years after “'Who Shot J.R.?'” and now Bobby’'s the victim. And DALLAS is still Number One around the world.

    Season 8:

    During the Summer of 1984, it is announced in the press that Barbara Bel Geddes would be stepping down from the role of Miss Ellie, and that veteran actress Donna Reed would be assuming the role.

    Say what?

    At that time, it was almost too much to fathom. How could the biggest show on earth re-cast its Emmy-winning matriarch? Yes, daytime soaps re-cast major characters all the time, but daytime is more like the stage --- the suspension of disbelief is much greater. But nighttime TV is more like the movies: it’s a more literal medium, and the three-dimensionality of the thing has to be convincing. Re-casting core characters just doesn'’t seem to work (something rival series DYNASTY, which would eventually re-cast all four grown Carrington children disastrously, never seemed to understand).

    Also gone was Bradford May'’s beautiful camerawork, producer Leonard Katzman feeling it was too artsy-fartsy for DALLAS.

    The plots for this season weren’t too bad: jealous Katherine is on the lam after being fingered as Bobby'’s shooter; Pam goes on a search for suicidal fiancé Mark Graison, who was terminally ill; Jenna stands up Bobby at the altar once again before anyone realizes she’s been kidnapped by the biological father of her daughter, Charlie; and Sue Ellen befriends Ewing cousin, Jamie (Jenilee Harrison), who holds an ancient piece of paper from the 1930s dividing Ewing Oil between Jock, “Digger” Barnes, and Jock’s brother, Jason (so, naturally, Cliff marries Jamie as quickly as possible).

    And yet there is a feeling of depression hanging over the show all season, the sense that something precious has now been ruined. The white elephant in the living room is Donna Reed, grossly miscast as Mis-Ellie. Miss Reed was an Oscar-winning actress and respected by her peers, and yet her performance as the newly upgraded matriarch –-- with bouffant hair and designer gowns and dithery demeanor --- falls as flat with audiences as one imagined it would have months in advance... Perhaps it wasn’'t really Donna Reed’s fault; probably any actor who'd tried to take over the role of any of the major characters on DALLAS would have faced a similarly doomed situation. But when it was announced prior to the end of the season that Reed would be leaving and Bel Geddes brought back, it created a huge scandal in the press. Dejected, Reed sued, Lorimar settling the case just to get the headlines off the front page. And Reed died months later.

    Over the years, there have been attempts to blame Bel Geddes for the double-fiasco, some of the DALLAS brass accusing the Broadway legend, somewhat disingenuously, of leaving the show in a fit of artistic snobbery, and then later demanding the role back after jealously watching another actress in the part... In fact, Bel Geddes wanted very much to continue with the show, but she also requested a raise and a temporary reduction in her workweek due to continued pain and fatigue from recent heart surgery. Given that DALLAS was still the top program on television, and considering how many characters were on the show by 1984, it would seem an easy thing to accommodate; but, to Bel Geddes' surprise, the show’'s brass said “"no",” her agent not taking seriously the threat to bring in another actress until it was too late and Reed had been hired. Later still, with producers realizing that Reed’'s scenes weren’t working well at all, Miss Reed was obviously cut down in her screen time (she would complain to the press that she only appeared in 9 seconds of one episode, leading one to wonder why they couldn’t therefore grant Bel Geddes’' request for fewer work hours) and then Bel Geddes was approached and asked to return.

    It was an event, a series of events, which should never have happened. But the fault lay not with the two actresses, but with executive arrogance, those executives apparently feeling that the actors were interchangeable (with the exception, no doubt, of Larry Hagman as J.R.). It was the first real crack in the veneer of DALLAS, the first sign that something was wrong behind the camera.

    The gloom and doom of the year, however, didn’'t do anything to minimize the dramatic impact of the on-screen death of white hat brother Bobby, run down in his ex-wife’'s driveway just after their agreeing to re-marry. (Crazy Katherine, the sociopathic perpetrator, died on the spot). It would become one of TV’'s all-time most powerful deaths.

    At least, for as long as it lasted.
     
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  3. Snarky's Ghost

    Snarky's Ghost Soap Chat Oracle

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    Season 9:

    With Bobby dead, and producers Lenny Katzman and Art Lewis leaving, the duties of running DALLAS should have fallen into the hands of David Paulsen, perhaps the show’'s most inspired constructionist. Instead, KNOTS LANDING producer Peter Dunne was brought in to take over DALLAS, leaving Paulsen no real choice but to go and take Dunne’s now-vacant position at KNOTS.

    Katzman had been frustrated by years of second-guessing by executive producer, Philip Capice, and Capice’s refusal to share executive producer credits with Katzman, the show-runner. And the moment Katzman and Lewis and Paulsen are gone, high-handed Capice fires DALLAS'’ main composer and theme writer, Jerry Immel, because Immel used Spanish guitar in Bobby’'s funeral episode(!).

    With Dunne and his writers now in place, the first half of the 1985-86 season wasn'’t all that bad; it was a little rawer, and little more experimental, a little artier, a little more introspective DALLAS: Pam joins Ewing Oil to administer Christopher'’s half of the company as per Bobby’'s will; Sue Ellen begins looking deeper into herself and the raising her mother gave her as to the route of her own psychological issues; Donna'’s pregnancy causes she and Ray to have second thoughts about divorcing; and a mysterious European glamour queen, Angelica Nero (Barbara Carerra), joins the ranks with a secret agenda of some sort.

    It was okay, this season, at first. But by midway through, at the point in each DALLAS season where the plots have to begin coalescing, intertwining, it just wasn'’t happening... Pam'’s tenure at Ewing Oil beside J.R. should have created fireworks, but once she asks for a cup of herbal tea to establish that she is indeed a powerful '‘80s businesswoman, they have her do absolutely nothing at all. She and J.R. get along just fine. Eventually, in the latter half of the season, she actually signs over Christopher'’s half of Ewing Oil to J.R. citing the view that, "“it’s just not worth the fight anymore".”

    Oh, really --- what fight??

    Donna learns her baby will have Down'’s Syndrome, so she undergoes a ridiculous miscarriage thanks to Jock'’s pet bull; clearly the patriarch's ghost didn'’t approve. So the writers trade off one disability for a less messy one: deafness, and Ray and Donna decide to adopt an adorable hearing-impaired child... Once Sue Ellen stops drinking and gets out of the clinic, she and J.R. get along just fine. And while a peaceful Mr. and Mrs. J.R. Ewing might be easier for the rest of the family to live with, is this newly-respectful couple really who J.R. and Sue Ellen are??

    It’'s forgivable that the Ewings might behave a little loopily in the wake of Bobby'’s passing. But this can’t go on forever. Yet the show seems to have slipped into the pattern that bad soaps do when the writers don'’t really know where they want to go --- suddenly, there are a series of improbable or poorly-timed “reconciliation moments” in which two characters come together and profess undying love and affection for each other in the middle of the plotline, seemingly arbitrarily, instantly eliminating any dramatic tension to their conflict or any need to pursue that plotline further. Inexplicably, everyone gets along in a way quite unlike the norm for this family.

    And the Angelica Nero plot, intended to conclude after 10 episodes, instead rambles on implausibly -– and boringly -– for the entire season, with some hooey twist about cousin Jack’'s twin running a shipping company somewhere exotic and glitzy-sounding. It was all very DYNASTY (and nearly as poorly-conceived as most of that series'’ storylines had likewise become) but DALLAS has not only begun emulating its overdressed rival show, it also is attempting to copy its more intimate spin-off, KNOTS. And while DALLAS certainly had more subtlety and nuance than most shows on the air at the time, it could be argued that it didn'’t have as much as KNOTS LANDING. And so the efforts just don’t come off.

    It feels pretentious. Politically correct.

    The show also pretends to strengthen the women this year, but they do so in a ‘'60s daytime soap coffee klatch kind of way where the ladies sit around chatting about the shenanigans of their rascally menfolk while shaking their fingers in fond disapproval. Ugh.

    DALLAS had now become more soap than opera. And although the ratings were still pretty good, Larry Hagman correctly realized the problem. Threatening to quit if his demands weren’t met, Hagman succeeded in getting both his buddies, Patrick Duffy and Lenny Katzman, back (and, with Katzman, came Paulsen) with Peter Dunne and his writing team removed... But most of the public was only aware of the announcement: “Patrick Duffy returning to DALLAS,” and in the final frame of the season, his ex-wife Pam finds Bobby soaping up nicely in her shower.

    Despite the fans having been very emotional about Bobby’'s death a year earlier, nobody sneered at the news. Everyone knew that DALLAS would find a way to make it work. The only question was: how?

    It was the show'’s biggest cliffhanger since “Who Shot J.R.?” half a dozen years earlier. The media and the public were all over it: How is Bobby alive ?? How will they explain it ??

    As it would turn out, not very well...

    Season 10:

    In the first scene of the new season, Bobby steps out of the shower, and Pam explains she’'d just had a year-long dream that he’d died. It turns out Katherine never ran him down, and the entire 31 episode interim season never happened. At all.

    Demographics showed that around the country, viewers began wandering off after that first scene, many of whom didn’t stay to watch the remainder of the two hour season opener.

    It was considered the groan heard ‘round the world. An abject fail. The jump-the-shark moment of all time before the term had even been coined. “Pam’'s Dream” became, literally and overnight, a sitcom punchline for years... But no matter. The powers that be from DALLAS would go around for 25 years trying to convince the younger generation that Pam'’s Dream Resolution was “brilliant” and "“the only way to bring Bobby back”" and that it supposedly hadn'’t been considered the universal disaster it was in 1986... How could a plot device that ruined totally the reputation of the most successful drama series in global television history be “brilliant”??

    Well, it wasn'’t. They’re lying. It’s a scam.

    In one fell swoop, DALLAS had shot itself -– only now, there was no question as to who did it. The show had spent years winning the critics over, but now the brass were thumbing their noses at the fans who had loyally sat through the previous season, validating all the standard "it's-just-a-soap-opera" criticisms that non-fans and detractors had often and unfairly dumped onto the show... Now DALLAS had earned the sneer... Thoughtlessly, the continuity and credibility of one of the biggest hits in TV history had been eliminated, seemingly with a smirk and a wink.

    Contrary to further revisionistic rumor, the ratings did not shoot up again after Bobby came back --- at least, not after that first scene. People who’'d been watching the show for eight years, tuned out and never came back.

    You see, it’s a completely different thing telling the audience that the Ewings had been duped about Bobby'’s death and telling them that the audience itself had been duped.

    And it didn’'t have to happen, either. The straggling plots threads from the previous season were, admittedly, weak enough that they could have been easily swept away so that Katzman could get on with his fresh storylines for the new season. But the real point in completely eradicating the previous year was to pettily give the finger to the exiting producers.

    And the further irony was that instead of truly erasing those plotlines, they would become preserved forever in amber because of the infamous method with which they were cancelled out.

    To make matters worse, Lorimar began using a new post-production process, cheaper than traditional lab work, in which the 35mm film pieces (the networks still demanded their drama series be shot on 35mm film because of its superior look) were dubbed down via computer to one inch video --- prior to editing --- and the film pieces tossed away, leaving no permanent film master copy or negative. It gives DALLAS the low-resolution look of having been shot on videotape. Old timers in the lab were apparently horrified that the show was going out over the airwaves like this, but the corporate bean counters felt the devolution in visual quality was worth the reduced expense. (Believe it or not, the Season 10 DVDs, though flawed, look 200% better than when the season first aired on network TV in 1986).

    And yet another irony is that, if you could manage to get the taste of Pam’s Dream Resolution off of your palate (and many viewers could not), the 1986-87 season would prove to be one of the snappiest, funniest seasons the show ever gave us, the closest to successful self-parody DALLAS would ever come... J.R. on the phone telling pregnant Jenna to come replace Pam as the bride at Pam’s wedding to Bobby; Pam trying to buy Jenna’'s inconvenient baby; J.R. procuring the aid of a wanted terrorist and mercenary, B.D. Calhoun, to create a small war in the middle east in order to bump up oil prices, and then being stalked by a vengeful Calhoun once the C.I.A. spooks J.R. into aborting the operation; Sue Ellen going into the smut lingerie business and to humiliate J.R. by hiring his favorite girlfriend, Mandy Winger (Deborah Shelton) as her top model; the widow of a suicidal Ewing Oil employee who helps J.R.'’s most effective enemy, the nefarious Jeremy Wendell (William Smithers), bring the Ewing company to its knees and into trouble with the federal government. And, of course, the would-be resurrection of the long-thought dead patriarch, Jock Ewing, in the form of cowpoke Wes Parmalee (Steve Forrest) which worked surprisingly well on an almost Shakespearean level, managing to be both laugh-out-loud funny and strangely poignant.

    Despite the upswing in the storytelling, Victoria Principal had had enough; announcing her departure a few weeks earlier, Pam sweeps under an 18-wheeler just after learning that she can carry a child full-term.

    And DALLAS would never quite be the same again.

    Season 11:

    Anticipating another writers’' strike in the Summer of 1987 (it was actually delayed another year) the decision was made to forego the usual Spring hiatus during which the next season’s plots were arrived at and pre-structured, and so the show went right into shooting the next year without delay.

    You can tell this has happened, because, despite having the magic trio of Katzman/Paulsen/Lewis still together and guiding the stories, the pacing of the 1987-88 year is off somehow. For one thing, Jack Scalia’'s mafia plotline receives far too much screen time than anybody wants; Susan Howard, apparently too vocally critical of last year’s Dream Scenario for Katzman’'s tastes, is written out despite the fact that her politically tied-in character would seem appropriately useful in the Ewings’ attempts to get the government off their backs; Ray and Jenna, now single, have fallen into a rebound romance, but the show tries to convince us that this relationship is somehow the real thing (which just enhances its sense of contrivance).

    But the worst error is the virtual ignoring of Pam'’s exit. The producers, apparently still acutely aware of how great the stumble Pam’'s Dream Scenario had been and quite on the defensive about it, seem to realize the intrinsic karmic connection between the lazy and foolish way Bobby was resurrected the year before and Pam’'s disappearance now. So their way of dealing with it is not deal with it at all; Pam is wrapped up in bandages like a mummy for several episodes just as a daytime soap might do, and then disappears after leaving Bobby a note stating that she doesn’t want him to come looking for her. And there is also an implication that her now-undead sister, Katherine, might be involved in her evaporation from Planet Earth.

    After all, if you can wipe away Bobby’'s death with the wave of a hand, you can wipe away Pam’s very existence. The family essentially behaves as if she was never there, as if her horrific accident was no big deal, Bobby’'s and Christopher’'s “hurt” reaction to their rejection by Mummy used as the flimsy rationale for nobody caring.

    The most effective way to allow an audience to deal with the death or exit of an actor or a core character is to show the other characters going through the transition process, as would occur in real life. Jock'’s death was handled this way, to great effect, as was Bobby’'s (even if his death was revoked in a year’s time). But coming up with bogus reasons the surviving characters can’'t or shouldn'’t talk about the missing person only serves to engender resentment from the viewer –-- or, by this point in the show, even greater resentment from the viewer.

    The finale of J.R. tossing Sue Ellen’'s boyfriend, Nicholas Pearce (Scalia), off a balcony and Sue Ellen picking up a pistol and shooting her once-again-ex-husband was derivative but effective enough (frankly, I'’d'’ve preferred to have seen her stab him, just for variety's sake).

    But this season, though imperfect, would be the last time DALLAS would bear any resemblance to the great drama series it once was. Writer-producer David Paulsen, apparently aware that the show is about to go for full-on “camp” (and receiving an offer to run, with full creative carte blanche, the ninth and final season of deeply troubled DYNASTY) exits DALLAS and is replaced by Howard Lakin, arguably the less serious dramatist.
     
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  4. Snarky's Ghost

    Snarky's Ghost Soap Chat Oracle

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    Season 12:

    This season finds a too-campy humor in full-flower as Sue Ellen secretly produces a theatrical motion picture about her life at Southfork (not a bad idea, in concept); J.R. marries a hillbilly girl, Cally (Cathy Podewell), less than half his age; a nearby rancher, Carter McKay (George Kennedy) begins sabotaging activities at Southfork, creating something akin to a modern-day range-war --- as a now-single Bobby is drawn to McKay's daughter in another potential Romeo & Juliet scenario (which they should have pursued); and the Ewing brothers go to Europe, then Moscow, to do big (if vague) business.

    These plots were rather decent, actually, if only the show surrounding them still felt solid, but, regrettably, the cracks were becoming fully visible. Somehow, it all just wasn't holding together... everything felt rushed, out-of-pace... motivations were beginning to seem contrived... Wealthy oil baron J.R. held captive on a chain gang? Miss Ellie suggesting Bobby take in Cliff Barnes at Ewing Oil?? Okay, maybe, as a conciliatory gesture --- but to have the idea come up and be decided on in a 10 second exchange in the Southfork living room without any sense of dramatic pause as to the gravity of such a decision, or to the history involved?

    Sue Ellen shelves her movie, quite illogically, threatening to release it if J.R. misbehaves or neglects his new bride, Cally, with no explanation as to how the financial backers of her picture might feel about this. But, no fool, Sue Ellen is out the door with no intention of returning. She’s getting out just in time.

    Season 13 & 14:

    Beginning in 1989, the final two seasons of Dallas saw the once-giant series slide into the same pattern adopted by most bad soaps: stuff just happens...

    Plots are clearly from boredom and are barely fleshed-out if not aborted altogether (why did Sue Ellen, after shelving her movie when she left town, never live up to the ultimatum she'd put to J.R. about when and why she might distribute it?? Just think about the dramatic potential there!). Other stories appear with little or no raison d'etre and then dissolve much the same; extraneous bit characters abide giving the impression that the producers might possibly have an idea in mind for them -- but to no avail; relationships seem forced (one never bought Bobby and April as a couple, let alone their doomed wedding in Paris), and the atmosphere of the Ewings residing at Southfork Ranch is no longer believable at all --- and the show doesn't even seem to be trying to convince us anymore!

    Just as telling, the show has a "new" theme design beginning with the Fall of '89 --- only it utilizes the same shots of the city skyline as the previous design, yet now those shots are re-arranged and clumsily interspersed with head-shots of the cast matching every drum beat like something some kid might put on Youtube. But these opening titles now include the young, minor players, presumably in a transparent attempt to trick the fans (or satisfy the network) into thinking the series was still fresh or hip... It wasn't successful.

    In fairness, the 1989-90 season started out with promise, the oil tanker spill (in the immediate wake of the factual Exxon Valdez disaster) almost coming off. Then, J.R. meets the grown son he never knew he had, James (Sasha Mitchell); Pam's look-alike (Margaret Michaels) haunts Bobby who thinks she may really be his ex-wife; and Cliff Barnes, now estranged from Ewing Oil, legally pursues J.R. for the latter's involvement in that huge oil-spill... Once again, these were good ideas, but somehow it all seemed for naught..

    Perhaps the biggest bungle of the '89-90 season was the serial-killer storyline in which a menagerie of the Clayton’s business associates are snuffed-out in a repetition of stupidly bizarre death scenes. The murderess? None other than Lady Jessica Montfort, Clayton's psycho sister fresh from the mental hospital! Jessica had been a terrific character and it was good to see the scenery-chewing Miss Smith reprise her creepy role (and it was quite appropriate that DALLAS turn macabre in its closing era, just as David Paulsen had done with DYNASTY when he tried to save that messed-up show in its final season) but, missing the tanker entirely, these DALLAS killings are played more for laughs and less for horror, the skeletons-from-the-closets possibilities completely lost; the Ewing Family Story, amazingly, is not furthered or in any way enhanced.

    The final year, the 1990-91 season, was, to be frank, a bit pathetic -- the stories, the stunt casting (Susan Lucci, Barbara "I Dream of Jeannie" Eden)... Susan Lucci kills April, Michelle kills Susan Lucci. And who cares? By the time Joel Grey guest-starred as J.R.'s guardian devil in the show's May 1991 finale, one found oneself asking: "is this what the present bosses wanted to control DALLAS for --- these last few seasons ??"

    The epic serial had become merely epically silly... only nobody was laughing (or, going by the ratings, watching anymore).

    The brass believed that Bobby and J.R. were the only two characters that mattered to the show, the show's antipathy for strong women became far more pointed in its later years. They proved it by letting Miss Principal get away far-too easily in 1987, firing Susan Howard the same year, firing Linda Gray in 1989 (the P.R. statement was that she quit), firing Barbara Bel Geddes and firing Charlene Tilton twice!!

    Apparently, the only “strong” females allowed anymore were pistol-totin’ babes.

    Eventually, even the other guys weren't safe: Steven Kanaly, fired in 1989... Perhaps the show kept Ken Kercheval and Howard Keel around just so J.R. could occasionally snarl at somebody who was (or had been) sort of an in-law--- especially since brother Bobby, by series' end, was just about the only remaining true Ewing relation...

    Of course, slipping ratings means decreasing profits which, in turn, means less money with which to produce the show, especially with Larry Hagman’s salary still soaring; the more established supporting actors -- or those with biggish salaries yet deemed "disposable" by executives -- were being released.

    That is, as they say, show business. Budgets change. But allowing the show to turn into an overt sitcom, as Katzman fully believed DALLAS should be a cartoon, meant that the series had now become a parody of something that was already a parody. Yes, a show like DALLAS can and must offer humor and satire, but, as DALLAS creator David Jacobs once observed, that humor has to be kept on the down low, with the project played absolutely straight on the surface.

    Obviously, Katzman didn’t agree. And crashing ratings didn’t seem to faze him. In fact, years after the series’ dismal 1991 conclusion, Lenny Katzman stated that his “biggest mistake ever” in DALLAS was killing off April, a secondary character who’d died in the final season when no one was even watching the show anymore.

    In its concluding seasons, DALLAS should have turned dusty and dark (similar to the tone of the 2012 reboot, despite the new show’s continuity issues), showing the Ewing empire, through scandal and corruption, crumble --- really crumble, thus allowing the saga to somehow come full-circle; instead, they let the show itself crumble, grasping apathetically in order to churn-out yet another episode, yet another season, yet another 19-year-old for the old-guys to sleep with for no particular reason.

    The later reunion movies, J.R. RETURNS (1996) and the even lesser WAR OF THE EWINGS (1998) seemed much too much like the very last days of the weekly series, only even weaker. Everything was played overtly for laughs at the expense of anything else.

    The brass, it would seem, were unrepentant.

    True, DALLAS always had humor even in its peak years, but that was a wry, intelligent humor, the show cynical and wise.... and at a level far from the quasi-titillating, campy fate that would befall it at its sunset, the show having slipped into the state of perpetual and deliberate self-parody Katzman preferred even if the audience didn’t.

    Simply put, the Fat Lady dun sung --- but it seems nobody was listenin'...

    Of course, who really listens when you're singing in the shower? And, for millions of fans around the world, that's just where DALLAS remains, even today: frozen in time, locked in 1986, forever awaiting a better explanation as to why Bobby is all lathered-up in his ex-wife's bathroom.

    [​IMG]
     
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  5. Snarky's Ghost

    Snarky's Ghost Soap Chat Oracle

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    Sorry if there are any missing apostrophes from the above text. Some creature ate some of them.

    [​IMG]
     
  6. Victoriafan3

    Victoriafan3 Soap Chat Well-Known Member

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    Gosh that must have taken you ages to write! Really good read. Thanks :) and regardless of it being a dream nonsense, it was indeed one of tvs most powerful deaths.
     
  7. Rove

    Rove Soap Chat Star

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    Season 8....

    It was this season alone which changed my affection for Dallas. There are not enough words in the dictionary to explain my dismay at Jenilee Harrison cast as Jamie Ewing. From that first scene I took an immediate dislike to the actress - she just rubbed me up the wrong way with her snarling teeth. If that wasn't enough I then had to contend with Donna Reed. If memory serves me correctly the writers had the Ewing clan gather at the airport for Miss Ellie and Clayton's arrival. The scene was created as if the producers had to tell us, "Look how clever we are." It was a mistake of massive proportions. This was all leading up to seeing off one of our beloved characters, Bobby. That hospital scene was more emotional than expected, yet it could have been so much more if the true Miss Ellie was there. Even the writers/producers appeared to admit their mistake by ensuring Miss Ellie (Donna Reed) stood behind Jenna and Pam.

    Then, worse was the come...the "Dream Season", the correction season, Pam's death and the ultimate screw up of her ending.
     
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  8. KayLloyd

    KayLloyd Soap Chat Fan

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    The reality is that Dallas went south fast when Capice was no longer around to keep Katzman in check. The checks and balances of their conflict kept the show at the top of it's game.
     
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  9. Rove

    Rove Soap Chat Star

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    The thing that still gets me when watching Bobby's death scene is Pam's (Victoria's) reaction when he flat-lines. Her jolt is the punctuation mark of Bobby's death and everything that was so good about Dallas and why it was at the top of its game. The carefully constructed scene in the lead up to Bobby's death was on full display. Jack, Jamie and Cliff learning of the horrible circumstances. Cliff's reaction when he learns the incident occurred at Pam's home. "All that wasted time. We should have been married," says Bobby as he lies there facing Pam and Jenna.

    More importantly we had the main characters there, J.R., Clayton, Miss Ellie (despite my objections to Donna Reed), Donna and Ray. But for the drama to follow the next season the writers cleverly left out Sue Ellen.
     
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2016
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  10. Victoriafan3

    Victoriafan3 Soap Chat Well-Known Member

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    I kn
    i hear you. Even the crying secretaries trying to contact Jr. and sly comforting Phyllis is an ideal touch. Victoria should have had an Emmy nod for this episode
     
  11. ArchieLucasCarringtonEwing1989

    ArchieLucasCarringtonEwing1989 Soap Chat Addict

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    Dallas in its first seven seasons could do no wrong for me, it had some dodgy moments but it was forgivable, when the 1984 cliffhanger basically rehashed the entire 'Who Shot JR' plot more or less step by step but this time swapping a Ewing brother and another crazy sister in law (what is it with Dallas and the crazy sister in laws! Kirsten, Katherine, Jessica!) that's when it kinda hit the fan for me, season 8 was a bit of a bore fest for most of the time, the Miss Ellie recast should've been written better by having Donna Reed play another character who replaces Ellie for a year, then we get to season 9 and despite its uncertain start (I felt that Dallas, Dynasty and Falcon Crest all started off unevenly in the
    1985-1986 season) but it was understandable as it had lost one of its characters!
    Season 9 for most part was a step up from season 8, it seemed fresh and a sense of a new start was in the air.

    Most people think that JR softening toward Sue Ellen was a mistake, but this wasn't the first time he and Sue Ellen went through a good patch and also he had lost the one brother he truly loved.
    Relastionships between characters were changing form, and a major death can often do this to families or groups of people, Angelica Nero plot should've been kept to its original 10 episode arc, but I guess they wanted a new villain at this point, but if TPTB wanted this then use Jeremy Wendell he was worse than JR at times, but aside from that season 9 looked like Dallas was entering into a new era and then..... Pam wakes up and it's 1985 all over again, Bobby is back and any character development from the previous season is destroyed as the show tries so hard to place the show back where it was before the dream season, even testing the waters on bring Jock back from the dead seemed like the producers were trying to put the show back where it was nearly a decade earlier but it fell flat season 10 was the start of the horrific five years that were to come.

    My issue with Dallas is that key plots that were used in the 1988-91 era, came far too late by this point, JR having a twenty something illigitimet son should've been used years earlier, when the shock would've reverberated around the Ewing clan, but by the time TPTB do this storyline it's like 'meh, whatever' it smacked of desperation, the one person who would've reacted to this development in a range of emotions had just left the preceding season, Sue Ellen in the earlier seasons, before she had John Ross, would've hit the bottle or tried to seduce him, but by this point it's pointless having this storyline happen at all.
     
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  12. Rove

    Rove Soap Chat Star

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    You make an excellent point regarding James Beaumont. Introducing the character when Dallas was at its peak in popularity would have had the desired effect. Any other actor than Sasha Mitchell would have been fine with me. Sweet Lord I just did a Google search on Sasha and hadn't realized how huge this guy has become.

    upload_2016-12-1_16-26-44.jpeg

    I will say no more bad things about the guy :eck:
     
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  13. Rove

    Rove Soap Chat Star

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    Dallas was the biggest show of it's type not only in America but around the world and only Barbara Bel Geddes receives an Emmy Award? How the hell Larry Hagman did not receive one still baffles me today.
     
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  14. ArchieLucasCarringtonEwing1989

    ArchieLucasCarringtonEwing1989 Soap Chat Addict

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    The loss of Bobby (for me anyway) wasn't as jarring as when the series lost Pam just two years later, that was a big big loss in a long line of losses (Donna, Ray, Jenna, Miss Ellie and Clayton) but while JR was the pulse of Dallas Pam was the spirit of the show, who kept going strength to strength season after season until season 10 when she's forced to take a backseat role for Bobby, even in the early seasons Pam never took a backseat role, this was such a massive retrograde for the character it was no wonder VP left in the end, I think had PD not returned I think VP would've stayed on for one more season at least

    Bobby's departure was perfect timing, his character had reached a natural end in 1985, everyone around him was moving on and he seemed to be in some sort of existential crisis all season.

    There was one mistake early Dallas made, wasting Lucy's potential, Lucy should've been motivated by a desire to do what her father couldn't do: beat JR, and had they introduced James Beaumont circa 1981/82 there could've been fireworks and a rivalry between the two cousins, but instead they had her sitting by the pool marry some jerk, divorce the jerk only to remarry the same jerk two years later then divorce the jerk again three years later, have her dabble in art (something which she never showed any interest in during her first go round on the show) then leave again, after wasting her potential for the second time! and they let her replacement Jamie Ewing take the storylines Lucy should've had.
     
  15. Rove

    Rove Soap Chat Star

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    I agree. My issue was more to do with Charlene Tilton's acting rather than the character. I've been re-watching Lorimar Dallas from the beginning and I'll admit I could tolerate Charlene in those first 5 episodes. However, once Dallas was green-lit to continue with the series suddenly the character appears to retract to an earlier age. It took all my strength not to skip that God awful "Runaway" episode. We see Charlene in pigtails and carrying on like she was 14 years old. I don't believe this character was fleshed out enough. Perhaps it would have been better if Lucy was packed off to Knots Landing to be with her parents.
     
  16. Rove

    Rove Soap Chat Star

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    I'm fascinated how character deaths affect different people. Personally Bobby's death had more of an impact than Pamela's death. At the time - like many others - I had assumed Bobby had gone forever, only to be hoodwinked later. When Pam went up in flames I wasn't aware at the time she decided to leave the series so just accepted it was a cliffhanger, that she somehow survived the accident and would return. To my horror she left.
     
  17. Snarky's Ghost

    Snarky's Ghost Soap Chat Oracle

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    As I tend to say, a show can survive a key character's death if that death is handled as if it's a character in itself -- and you do that by having the remaining cast react to it as family members would in real life.

    With Jock and Bobby, they did this. But they didn't with Pam -- in part because VP's exit came too quick for much planning time, and because there was also no spring hiatus in 1987 where that planning time usually occurred. And, as David Jacobs once admitted, VP didn't have a great relationship with the DALLAS brass, adding that while those things shouldn't affect what we see on screen, they sometimes do anyway.

    "I can buy and sell all of you bastards..."
    [​IMG]
     
  18. Rove

    Rove Soap Chat Star

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    If that's the case it's unprofessional. Interesting how the "Dallas brass" are prepared to pat themselves on the back as Dallas enjoyed domestic and international success but as Dallas began its slippery slope to the television graveyard they would shift that failure to an actress. Who was responsible for the Donna Reed debacle? How could the "Dallas brass" not see the introduction of Jenilee Harrison as Jamie was the casting decision from hell? Granted Patrick Duffy's leaving was entirely his decision but then that top brass allow the character to return and insult viewers by saying, "The previous season was just a waste of your time."

    I have heard Victoria gave the "Dallas brass" approximately two years of her impending departure from Dallas. Did they believe she was bluffing? For more money? Others will argue Larry Hagman (JR) was integral to the success of Dallas but I would debate Victoria (Pam) was just as important to the success of the series. Bobby's death, I believe, was just the shot in the arm Dallas needed. For a series that was at the top its game after several seasons, Patrick's departure was just what Dallas needed to propel the series further. The ramifications from Bobby's death could have been felt for years..well at least for the next 2 seasons as the writers intelligently gave Pam controlling interest of Christopher's stake in Ewing Oil.

    Victoria was not to blame for any of this. If anything I believe the in-fighting occurring behind the scenes between the Executive Producer (Phil Capice), Co-Executive Producer (Leonard Katzman) and others was the beginning of the downfall of Dallas. Massive egos were at play, actors positioning their support behind those having control and wanting control. Thankfully Victoria stood behind her decision and left.

    I wonder if she spent any time watching the series slowly descend into the mess it became?
     
  19. Snarky's Ghost

    Snarky's Ghost Soap Chat Oracle

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    Yes. Although Jenilee Harrison doesn't bother me and doesn't strike as one of the series' gigantic gaffes (I'm apatethic to her)/

    Principal did negotiate in 1987, but she was only willing to re-sign for one year (Lorimar wanted two) and she reportedly was asking for financial parity with Patrick Duffy but was refused (although they'd apparently offered her a bundle and enough to push her passed Linda Evans and Joan Collins as TV's highest paid actress).

    When she left, she politely said in the press "Lorimar and CBS have always been very generous with me."

    She later called the use of the dream scenario "a nightmare." And also stated that when she left she'd suspected that "DALLAS' best years were behind it," so one assumes she had an opinion about the on-set politics before leaving. And I'd be willing to bet she kept up with the show's descent.
     
  20. Rove

    Rove Soap Chat Star

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    Absolutely! And by placing the "Dream Scenario" on Pam just weakened her character straight out of the box. Victoria was one smart cookie. Although her television career never reached the dizzying heights of Dallas she did find success with Principle Secret. It would appear she was attuned to those behind the scenes flash of egos and in hindsight, left at the appropriate time.

    Anything the character Bobby touched after this point had nothing on Pam. They stood in her shadow. I find it interesting a character that was last dealt with in 1988 (when Margaret Michaels appears) suddenly is resurrected in TNT Dallas, 25 years later. Proves how popular the character was with fans (even after all this time) and how they desperately clung to the hope Pam would return.
     

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