Who Were The Two Most Essential Characters To Dallas?

Discussion in 'Dallas - The Original Series' started by Kenny Coyote, May 8, 2019.

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Who Were The Two Most Essential Characters To Dallas?

Poll closed May 15, 2019.
  1. JR and Cliff

    9.5%
  2. JR and Bobby

    19.0%
  3. JR and Pam

    52.4%
  4. JR and Miss Ellie

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  5. Bobby and Pam

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  6. JR and Sue Ellen

    9.5%
  7. Miss Ellie and Jock

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  8. JR and Jock

    9.5%
  1. Kenny Coyote

    Kenny Coyote Soap Chat Well-Known Member

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    When I was much younger I would have either answered JR and Bobby or JR and Pam. Now my answer is different. Now I'd say JR and Cliff were the two most essential characters to Dallas.

    JR easily tops the list of most essential Dallas characters. It's no coincidence that he was the most talked about Dallas character both in the show and in real life and that he was the most essential character to the show. In TV series in the style of Dallas, actors are paid in relation to their worth to the show. Larry Hagman's salary showed how his importance to Dallas compared to the salaries of other actors on the show. If I remember correctly, when Dallas's most famous cliffhanger aired - the beginning of the "Who Shot J.R." mania - Hagman had the highest salary on the show and the next two were Duffy and Principal although I don't know which was paid more or if they were paid equally. Despite already commanding the highest salary on the show, Hagman renegotiated with the network and his salary was drastically increased, commensurate to the amount of publicity "Who Shot J.R." had created. J.R. had become the most talked about character on all of television and Larry Hagman had become the highest paid actor on TV.

    Bobby was considered important enough that the people running the series were willing to say that everything we'd seen happen for a whole season didn't happen because it was just a bad dream. That's a questionable decision but it's a huge compliment! It showed just how important they considered Bobby. They thought they needed him back no matter what damage the show's credibility took in the process.

    I don't think you can ever justify killing the show's credibility for the sake of any one character. Still he was extremely important to the series, primarily for two reasons. One reason was he was half of what is sometimes called Dallas's "Cain and Abel" story. Bobby and JR loved each other no matter what happened, no matter what the other did. It was unconditional love - what you hope to have between family members. They were extremely competitive with each other though, and they had very different mindsets. The two of them viewed the world in very different ways.

    The two of them brought out the best in each other. Jock knew this when he wrote the codicil to his will in which he stated that the purpose of the contest had been to teach Bobby and JR to respect each other's abilities as businessmen and to have them both come to realize that they were far better off working together instead of working against each other.

    That competitiveness between JR and Bobby and the various attributes each brought with him to Ewing Oil was a huge part of what Dallas was about. Bobby found himself in the role of being the moral compass for Ewing Oil. After Jock died, it was up to Bobby to try to reign JR's impulsivity in and to temper some of JR's more underhanded tactics with ethical standards. Bobby wanted Ewing Oil to stand for more than just making money any way possible. So without Bobby, JR would be free to take Ewing Oil in any direction he wanted. If Bobby had been like Gary and shown no interest or aptitude for business, Jock would have left Ewing Oil entirely to JR, who would have been free to run it any way he saw fit. We would have missed out on all the great stories provided by the conflict between the ways JR and Bobby wanted Ewing Oil run as well as their contest for control of Ewing Oil. That was huge. As far as I'm concerned the contest for control of Ewing Oil was the best, most exciting storyline in Dallas history.

    Pam was extremely important to Dallas. She was one half of Dallas's "Romeo and Juliet" love story. It was inarguably the greatest love story Dallas had. Like the characters Romeo and Juliet, Bobby and Pam came from families who were feuding with each other. There was bad blood between the Barnes and the Ewing families and Pam literally brought that closer to home than anyone else would have thought possible - brought it right into Southfork. To Pam's credit, she hated the feud and was almost always trying to put an end to it. She played the role of the peacemaker in the Barnes-Ewing feud. Nobody wanted that feud ended more than Pam. Their marriage was so significant that it was the very first thing the series focused on. The first image we saw was Bobby and Pam headed toward Southfork to bring the "good news" to the Ewings that they'd gotten married.

    Cliff wasn't likable in the way Bobby and Pam were. Bobby and Pam were two of the nicest characters in Dallas, maybe THE two nice people in Dallas. Cliff wasn't a peacemaker like Pam; he was the opposite. His biggest role was in making sure the Barnes-Ewing feud continued. It was a tremendous feud - maybe the greatest feud in TV history. It was the source of tremendous storylines year after year. Nothing seemed capable of deterring Cliff from trying to win this feud. Even though JR got the upper hand in almost every situation where Cliff and he clashed, Cliff just would not go away. Cliff just wouldn't quit. He allowed himself to be consumed with the desire for revenge to the point where you could say he had become obsessed with the Ewings but especially JR - despite Jock being the man who had supposedly stolen Digger's fortune, ruined Digger's life in the process and the man who Digger once tried to shoot.

    Cliff's obsession with perpetuating the Barnes-Ewing feud, despite Pam begging him to please stop feuding with the Ewings, his bitterness, and his ability to absorb punishment while continuing to instigate situation after situation which forced the Ewings to fight back or be put out of business was what I consider to be why he and JR were the two most essential characters to Dallas.
     
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  2. Victoriafan3

    Victoriafan3 Soap Chat Well-Known Member

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    Pam and JR, to me, were the essence of the show. Yin and Yang. The show would never be the same without them. She was Dallas Queen Victoria and, as Victoria said once, Larry was the first King of the world.
     
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  3. Kenny Coyote

    Kenny Coyote Soap Chat Well-Known Member

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    You put it an interesting way. "Yin and Yang." I'm don't know much Chinese but I think that means opposites, or it's two things which are distinctly different.

    JR and Cliff weren't even as different as JR and Pam. JR and Cliff at least had in common that they liked to fight, to compete, and especially in business. They both wanted to make a ton of money as well. Pam had a ton of money, but only after her mother died and she inherited it. Even then, she was only interested in maintaining it in sound investments so that Christopher would have all the money he'd ever need. I remember Pam asking Bobby after he had said something about something that would make them a lot of money: "How much money do we need? Money isn't that important to me"! Just like JR and Cliff, Bobby loved to compete. He loved being the best at something - going way back to his high school and college football careers. Pam wasn't competitive. She once said to Bobby during the contest for Ewing Oil: "I don't have the stomach to be on your team."

    Pam was the nicest, most decent, most gentle character on the show. JR was the most ruthless, the most competitive, and though he was capable of being kind to those he loved, was capable of being very cruel to his enemies and sometimes even cruel to people he did love such as Sue Ellen. I think that if you lose Cliff, then you lose the Barnes-Ewing feud since Pam is a peacemaker and a gentle soul. That Barnes-Ewing feud generated most of the conflict in the show and it's why I chose JR and Cliff as the two most essential to the show.

    Pam is a great choice too though because she's half of the show's greatest love story along with Bobby. I prefer business-driven storylines over romantic storylines in general. If the romances were my favorite type of story in Dallas, then I'd probably choose Pam and Bobby as the two most essential characters.

    Pam is also in a completely unique situation in that she's the only person in the show who is caught in the middle of the Barnes Ewing feud. Other people are on one side or the other. That drives Pam to try to make peace between the two families and to try to end the feud. She's sick of being in that uncomfortable position where her husband is on one side and her brother is on the other side. She felt she had to end the feud because she could never fully escape it. Even when she left Bobby, she still had a son who was a Ewing and she didn't want the feud being carried into his generation.

    Overall I think Pam and Bobby would be tied for choice of the next most essential character. I've read where people said they should have left Bobby dead rather than do something as contrived as having a whole season turn out to be just a dream. I agree with those people. I don't think you can put one character above the good of the entire show like they did with Bobby. I've read where some of the same people said there was no Dallas without Pam and that they should have ended Dallas when Pam left.. Well, if you can continue the show if you lose Bobby but keep Pam, then why would they say you can't continue the show if you lose Pam but keep Bobby?

    I'd be interested in hearing from people who think that's the case - that Bobby was somehow more expendable than Pam. Either way, whichever one you lose, the Romeo and Juliet story of the series is over. It takes both Pam and Bobby to maintain the best love story of the series. The other great story of the series is The Barnes-Ewing feud. Cliff is the one who is obsessed with keeping the Barnes-Ewing feud going, at least until he wins, which is never happening. You could lose either Pam or Bobby and that feud would be going just as strong as ever.

    Of course you hate to lose either Victoria Principal or Patrick Duffy from the show since they both had so many fans and both actors contributed great performances to the show while involved in some the show's most classic storylines. They're both so valuable to the series that I don't see how you figure one of them is considerably more important to the show than the other regarding the series being able to continue. As big of a blow as it would be to the series, Dallas could have lost either one of them and potentially still be excellent. I don't think Dallas could have sustained losing both Victoria Principal and Patrick Duffy at the same time though. That would be too big of a blow for the show to withstand.
     
  4. Taylor Bennett Jr.

    Taylor Bennett Jr. Soap Chat Well-Known Member

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    Jock and Digger - no Ewing Oil, no Barnes-Ewing feud without them!

    (I'm being a bit facetious - after all, the show did just fine without them present - but if you include how important a character is to the backstory in the criteria for determining 'essentialness', those two would shoot to the top)
     
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  5. Seaviewer

    Seaviewer Soap Chat TV Fanatic

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    One almost instinctively thinks "JR and Bobby" at first. But on reflection I would say JR and Pam, as David Jacobs originally intended. That was where the Barnes/Ewing rivalry really hit the fan.
     
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  6. Swami

    Swami Soap Chat Hero

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    You could actually answer several of the choices. I'd say JR and Jock on the basis that to understand JR's modus operandi, you had to look at how he strove for Jock's approval. Everything he did, he did to please his father.

    Swami
     
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  7. Angela Channing

    Angela Channing Soap Chat Hero

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    The Central theme of Dallas was the Barnes Ewing feud so the most essential characters would have to be a representative from each family. Pam, with split loyalties from having a foot in both families gives her the edge over Cliff so I voted JR and Pam.
     
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  8. Taylor Bennett Jr.

    Taylor Bennett Jr. Soap Chat Well-Known Member

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    it’s amazing how much that dynamic is captured in the first draft of the pilot, available online thanks to ultimate dallas: http://www.ultimatedallas.com/scripts/pilot.pdf

    after Jock calls JR a Jackass, this descriptive text follows:

    “J.R. tenses. He can’t take reprimands from Jock.”
     
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  9. Miss Texas 1967

    Miss Texas 1967 Soap Chat Fan

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    I voted JR and Cliff but I think JR and Pam come in a close second. I think a lot of the time Pam and JR clashed because of the relationship between JR and Cliff though. Pam never liked JR and he never liked her but I think after a while they may have been able to live with that mutual dislike if nothing else was happening in the background. Cliff and JR on the other hand were always at each other's throats, one going after the other and then the other retaliating, over and over, and Pam had the empathy and loyalty to her family to call JR out on his behaviour, Cliff too at times. If Cliff and JR hadn't been actively going back and forth trying to one up each other there would have been much less depth to the feud, especially after Jock and Digger were gone.
     
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  10. Kenny Coyote

    Kenny Coyote Soap Chat Well-Known Member

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    I think so too. They never would have been friends but they would have been on better terms if the Barnes-Ewing feud ended and Pam certainly tried to end it. Remember when Cliff had 5% of Ewing Oil but he needed a loan from Pam since nobody else would loan him the money? She said she'd buy Cliff's 5% of Ewing Oil and do something like "put the shares out of circulation." Then Cliff would have more than enough reserve money for anything he needed it for. That was her way of trying to end the feud but Cliff refused. He told Pam "Don't ask me to give up the one thing that means the most to me - revenge"!

    Cliff's explanation that the whole reason for going after the Ewings was to avenge Digger for what Jock had done to him was revealed for what it was when he kept it going even after his father was dead and the man who had (in Cliff's mind and to a lesser extent in Digger's mind) ruined his father's life was also dead. It indicated that Cliff would keep the feud going as long as he possibly could. That it was hurting Pam's marriage and making her miserable wasn't enough reason for Cliff to end it. Actually Cliff would have preferred that it did end her marriage to Bobby. That Pam could know that and still like Cliff is kind of hard to understand. She expected JR to be critical of her and Bobby's marriage. But to have to deal with that negativity and criticism coming from her own brother who she'd always been so good to seems like it would have hurt a lot more than when it was coming from JR.
     
  11. Barbara Fan

    Barbara Fan Super Moderator Staff Member

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    The 2 most essential characters on Dallas were JR and Pamela

    JR for obvious reasons and Pamela was the link to it all, past and present Barnes V Ewing, the feud, her marriage to Bobby, their rivalry with JR, the link to Digger and Jock feud, keeping peace with Bobby and his family, her brother - she was the lynch pin and when she left, the key person to all of it, - is when Dalllas began to fail and the ratings began to drop significantly.

    VP leaving was the turning point of the show (and not for the better)
     
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  12. Snarky's Ghost

    Snarky's Ghost Soap Chat Oracle

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    Miss Ellie and Lady Jessica, obviously. It should have been nothing but rolling pins and spatula shivs from there on out.
     
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  13. Willie Oleson

    Willie Oleson drilling for soap

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    I think, overall, Bobby was more conflicted than Pam.
    And JR was fun because he wasn't conflicted at all.
     
  14. Michelle Stevens

    Michelle Stevens 'The Lovely Michelle'

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    JR and Bobby. At first I considered JR and Pam but the reason JR hated Pam so much was that she was married to a Ewing and lived in his parent's house. I have the impression that it was all about JR's worship of Jock and how Bobby was his favorite. The Yin and Yang of Dallas for me was JR and Bobby.
     
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  15. southfork88

    southfork88 Soap Chat Addict

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    1) J.R.
    2) Sue Ellen
    3) Pamela
    4) Bobby
    5) Miss Ellie
    6) Cliff
    7) Jock
    8) Ray
    9) Donna
    10) Lucy
     
  16. Taylor Bennett Jr.

    Taylor Bennett Jr. Soap Chat Well-Known Member

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    are Willie Joe Garr and Jeb Ames considered separate characters?
     
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  17. Lastkidpicked

    Lastkidpicked Soap Chat Fan

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    .
    As you figured would happen, here comes the Texan to stir the pot with a controversial posting.

    First off, I'd lay it out there that Jock Ewing is one of the most important characters. We needed to watch the interaction between Jock and his sons in order to understand why J.R. is J.R. Remember that although the famous line, "I gave you power?" was directed at Bobby, J.R. was right there watching and learning.

    And the second most important character is Southfork Ranch.

    Is Southfork Ranch a character?

    I can't take credit for this theory, people on this board came up with the idea first. And I agree with them, Southfork is a character on its own, with its own history, its own drama, and its own story to tell.

    "Fine, fine fine. Southfork is a character. But is it really the second most important character in the entire series?"

    Glad you asked!

    Imagine Dallas taking place entirely at the office. Without Southfork, we would miss out on the interactions between Jock and Miss Ellie. Between Miss Ellie and the boys. Between Jock and the boys when they are at home instead of the office.

    And let's not forget the characters we wouldn't meet without Southfork-- Ray, Donna, Lucy, Mickey Trotter.

    We need Southfork as a backdrop as we watch all of these characters interact with each other.

    "Ray, get me the shotgun out of the hall closet."
     
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  18. Toni

    Toni Soap Chat Enthusiast

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    I think the Oil Baron´s Club and the much-used Ewing Condo were two of the most underrated Dallas characters...After all, that´s where "bidness" were made...Here is one of my favorite setups, vintage J.R.:

     
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