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Without The Ewings, Did Cliff Have Any Purpose To His Life

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

  1. Kenny Coyote

    Kenny Coyote Soap Chat Enthusiast EXP: 12 Years

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    Have you ever thought that Cliff would have been completely lost without the Ewings, particularly JR, in his life? Cliff's life was entirely centered around JR and the Ewing family in general too, but primarily JR. It was a sick obsession that went far beyond trying to "avenge Digger." Even Digger didn't want Cliff to try to ruin the Ewings but Cliff ignored Digger's input and went right ahead with his plan to "see them down and out."

    How many times when Cliff is in situations that have nothing to do with business does Cliff talk about JR? I wouldn't want to try to count them all, but I'd estimate more than three quarters of all of his conversations included mentioning some member of the Ewing family. He seemed to think about the Ewings, and especially JR, from the time he woke up until the time he went to bed. He even tried to marry Sue Ellen!

    I don't know what Cliff had going on in his life that didn't involve the Ewings. Even the women he saw were all tied together with JR in some way or another. The Ewings seemed to be Cliff's only reason for existing.
     
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2020
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  2. Snarky's Ghost

    Snarky's Ghost Soap Chat Oracle EXP: 19 Years

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    He definitely preferred having JR atop Ewing Oil rather than Bobby.
     
  3. Kenny Coyote

    Kenny Coyote Soap Chat Enthusiast EXP: 12 Years

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    He did. Damaging Bobby's business wouldn't have given Cliff nearly as much satisfaction as doing that to JR would.

    There was a time when it looked like the feud could have ended. Pam had divorced Bobby, so Cliff was happy about that. Cliff got along well with Mark, Cliff's company was doing well and he didn't seem to have any reason to want to start trouble. But then he started blackmailing Sly. The feud was like an addiction for Cliff. It was just something he had to have.
     
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2020
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  4. Angela Channing

    Angela Channing World Cup of Soaps Moderator EXP: 21 Years

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    Without the Ewings, Cliff would have been president of the United States. He wasted his life on Digger's revenge trip instead of fulfilling his own potential.
     
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  5. Jimmy Todd

    Jimmy Todd Soap Chat Addict EXP: 1 Year

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    Cliff made his war against the Ewings who he was. On days when he wasn't working on something to destroy them he probably felt empty and depressed.
    He is similar to Happy in The Death of a Salesman, determined to live out his father's dreams at the expense of his own. His brother Biff refused to go down that path, realizing he wasn't being true to himself. Pam and Cliff have a lot in common with Biff and Happy.
    @Kenny Coyote's post raises the question, were Cliff and JR ever truly happy since both were so obsessed with living out their father's dream? JR seemed much happier and displayed a certain amount of pleasure over the suffering he inflicted on his enemies. However, pleasure and happiness are not necessarily one and the same.
    Victor Frankl wrote about the "existential vacuum" and how people may try to fill it with other things such as work, alcohol or sex. Cliff and JR both fit the bill in that area.
    I wish Dallas was on tv today and as popular as it was in the 80's. I would incorporate it into my classes!:spinning:
     
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2020
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  6. Kenny Coyote

    Kenny Coyote Soap Chat Enthusiast EXP: 12 Years

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    I wish Dallas was on TV today and I would not want it any different (for roughly the first half for the series) from how it was- they could make it a series set in the 80s. Like Mad Men was set in the 60s. I think it would be still be extremely successful. A good story doesn't go out of style and Dallas told a great story for the first 8 years.

    I agree with what you said about Cliff, although Cliff took things even further than Digger wanted him to. There was more going on there than just a quest for vengeance. There was a lot of jealousy in Cliff. He was anything but happy.

    Was JR happy? I think he truly loved the oil business. He never did anything that made me think he didn't love it. The thing about him living up to Jocks dreams is that JR never learned some of Jock's most important lessons - such as "You've to leave a man with some dignity." Also, when JR asked Jock why subtlety is important, Jock said: "Because the lack of it turns competitors into enemies and enemies into fanatics." JR didn't learn that. Jock once said: "I gave him the fever for big business but I never taught him when to stop." Jock set the example as an oilman that neither JR or Bobby ever lived up to. JR had the more drive of the two of them and Bobby had the better ethics. Jock had everything it took and set a standard that was very difficult to match.

    I don't know how someone could be happy living with as horrible a set of ethics as JR had. Even disregarding his business ethics, his constant cheating on his wife is inexcusable. To me it goes back to the lesson JR taught John Ross one day(though he didn't always follow his own lesson): "With family you fight fair, and if you do, you'll able to live with yourself."

    You can't be happy if you can't live with the person you see in the mirror. Is it possible JR could look himself in the mirror and be content with who he was? I guess some people might be built that way to be able yo have that mindset. I'sure most people couldn't be happy with themselves of they did all the things JR did though. I think a lot of what he did in business can be excused as being necessary for survival in a cutthroat business. He didn't have to take to so far though and that's why Jock was liked by many of his peers and associates while JR was not. You can be ruthless in business without being sadistic. Jock became what he had to become to survive and flourish in his industry. JR went beyond what he had to do and did some things that were unwarranted and ultimately bad for him. Treat people badly enough and it gets to a point where nobody wants to business with you anymore. That's why he had to hire Casey Denault - JR had gotten to where people chose not to do business with him.

    I see JR's biggest shortcoming being as a husband. The way JR treated his wife was shameful. There is no excuse for that at all. JR was an excellent father - that was his greatest success by my standards. I think the happiest times in his life were the ones he spent with his son. TNT didn't have a clue regarding that (and many other things). They wrecked JR's character by taking a fascinating, complex character and turning him into a caricature of what he had been in the original by taking away his best qualities.
     
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2020
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  7. Billy Wall

    Billy Wall Soap Chat Fan EXP: 1 Year

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    Without the Ewings, Cliff would have reached his full potential. He wasted his life carrying on a vendetta.
     
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  8. Lastkidpicked

    Lastkidpicked Soap Chat Addict EXP: 12 Years

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    And they continued their feud until the very end. I really enjoy this exchange from Dallas TNT where they meet again after many years. It should be noted that when this was filmed, Ken Kercheval was 77 years old and Larry Hagman was 81 and in the final year of his life.

    I believe they had a fun time filming this scene together, and it shows up when you watch them:

    Cliff: (Seeing Sue Ellen speaking with J.R.): Well, what do we have here? And angel talking to the devil.
    J.R: It sure was an unpleasant surprise seeing you show up at Southfork. You must be out of your tiny mind thinking Bobby would ever sell Southfork to you.
    Cliff: I will never stop fighting for what is rightfully mine. And I know you are the same way.
    J.R.: I'm a changed man. Evidence of that is you are not being wheeled out of here with two broken legs.

    All those years later and nothing has changed.

    But I suppose that's the way we like it!
     
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  9. Snarky's Ghost

    Snarky's Ghost Soap Chat Oracle EXP: 19 Years

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    But was he?
     
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  10. Swami

    Swami Soap Chat Supreme

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    Only in JR Returns, when Bobby asks him what his choice will be (stopping JR's deal for Ewing Oil or meeting up with Afton), does Cliff for once indicate a desire for anything other than a vendetta against Ewing Oil.

    Swami
     
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  11. Sarah

    Sarah Super Moderator EXP: 21 Years Staff Member

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    What about Pam and Christopher? Ewings yes - but he loved them.
     
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  12. Taylor Bennett Jr.

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    I feel if he'd stayed in New York as a lawyer and been married to Penny Ames with a family, his obsession with the Ewings would have faded
     
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  13. Lastkidpicked

    Lastkidpicked Soap Chat Addict EXP: 12 Years

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    Cliff has an introspective thought about his fighting with J.R.

    After the Dandy Dandridge escapades, Cliff has a nice conversation with Miss Ellie. This is one of the rare scenes between Barbara Bel Geddes and Ken Kercheval. It is an amazing scene.

    And after this wonderful conversation, Miss Ellie asks if Cliff and J.R. could ever end their feud.

    A thoughtful Cliff replies,

    "What's gone on between your son and me goes way beyond the Barnes's and the Ewings and the feuds. (He chuckles) I swear. . . we would have hated each other no matter what our names were."
     
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  14. Herofan

    Herofan Soap Chat Active Member EXP: 1 Year

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    I agree. If the Ewings hadn’t existed in Cliff’s life at all, he would probably have went on to other things. If they had suddenly vanished from his life somehow in the mid 80s after basing his life Adkins them so long, I’m not sure what he would have done then.
     
  15. Kenny Coyote

    Kenny Coyote Soap Chat Enthusiast EXP: 12 Years

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    That- the idea that if the Ewings suddenly somehow vanished from his life, he would have felt completely lost, is a great way of putting it.

    If the Ewings had never existed, I think he could have dome something productive with his life. I don't think he had the intelligence to have made it to an extremely high level though. I remember that while Cliff was blackmailing Sly, JR had Cliff's phone tapped and had a big collection of tapes of his conversations. Harry McSween was in JR's office and remarked that he remembered JR never had much respect for Cliff's abilities. JR replied that he had a lot more respect for Cliff's abilities before he started listening to those tapes!

    There's another scene where JR is talking to the guy who Cliff had hired as the foreman in his crew (and whom JR had paid off). The foreman said that they had so far managed to miss all the most promising formations and added "Barnes is so dumb he hasn't even noticed, but the crew members are starting to catch on." He went on to say something like: You know, it's hard to find a bad crew? Most of these guys are pretty sharp.

    It wasn't until Jamie suggested that maybe he'd hired an incompetent crew that Cliff actually did anything to change things. Cliff would probably have lost his company if it hadn't been for Jamie. Cliff had a lot of drive and motivation but intellectually, he was average at best.
     
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2020
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  16. Seaviewer

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    When we first saw him he had a political career going which appeared to be having some success until Jock and JR sabotaged it.
     
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  17. Angela Channing

    Angela Channing World Cup of Soaps Moderator EXP: 21 Years

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    Exactly and in the final episode they showed what his life would be like without JR and his political career had more than some success, he eventually found himself doing the top job.
     
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  18. Kenny Coyote

    Kenny Coyote Soap Chat Enthusiast EXP: 12 Years

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    That wasn't just a random thing that happened. Cliff had made the decision to attack the Ewing family. It wasn't a decision based on "what is the best thing I can do for the people of Texas" it was "how can I use my political power to continue a personal vendetta." Jock and JR were responding to somebody trying to hurt them. Had Cliff left Ewing Oil alone, Jock would've left Cliff alone. Jock didn't have any interest in continuing the Barnes-Ewing feud. He had better things to do. Cliff had better things to do than continue the feud too, such as furthering his career, except Cliff's problem was he wasn't smart enough to know it.

    Cliff's decisions were rarely rational; they were usually based on emotion. That's why I see his future in politics as considerably more limited than becoming the president the country. Cliff's emotion based decisions got him hurt, more often than not, and sometimes got him badly hurt. He was so emotionally unstable that he tried to commit suicide.

    A wise man chooses his battles. He doesn't get into battles he knows he can't win. Cliff did that repeatedly, and even worse, he failed to learn from his mistakes. Cliff once said to Jeremy Wendell, "everyone makes mistakes" and Wendell replied "but you make them again and again"!
     
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2020
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  19. lbf522

    lbf522 Soap Chat Active Member

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    I remember during the dream season when Jamie came to JR's office to ask him not to destroy Cliff and JR's reply was he would not destroy Cliff as long as Cliff stayed away from him. So yes, everytime JR destroyed Cliff it was in response to Cliff coming after him. Bobby even once said that he understood why JR would destroy Cliff every chance he got.
     
  20. Snarky's Ghost

    Snarky's Ghost Soap Chat Oracle EXP: 19 Years

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    I rarely defend JR, but he mostly left Cliff alone except when Cliff mounted yet another assault on him, which was always.

    JR was his playmate, which is why Cliff never wanted Bobby atop Ewing Oil.
     
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