Worst Dallas Characters

Discussion in 'Dallas - The Original Series' started by ClassyCo, Jun 27, 2018.

  1. ClassyCo

    ClassyCo Soap Chat Well-Known Member

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    I've frequently thought about Jenna Wade, and the three different actresses that played her.

    For several years now, I've been a fan of Morgan Fairchild, and I was quite eager to see what she did with Jenna when she first popped back up in Texas in 1978. Of course, she was one beautiful woman, and I felt she had the bite the character needed. Jenna was suppose to be a threat to Pamela and Bobby's union, and Morgan was certainly the actress to add the proper fuel to that fire. But, as we all know, her tenure lasted just one episode.

    In 1980, actress Francine Tacker stepped into the role. She appeared in two episodes during the show's third season (per DVD count), but her impact seems to almost forgotten in my mind. Looking back at it now, Tacker seems to have had a similar vixen type aurora about her, but she lacked the looks to match that persona. Or that's what I thought at least. I'm not saying that Tacker wasn't an attractive woman, but she didn't seem right for the role. And that, when considering TV shows, is the most critical thing---the casting.

    Priscilla Presley, the King of Rock-n-Roll's wife, got the part in 1983, this time as a series regular. Priscilla, as many I'm sure would agree, was a quite physically desirable woman, but she ended up wrong for the role overall. Her first handful of episodes, as I recall, seemed to show some promise that she would be the vindictive femme fatale I always imagined she would be, but it didn't pan out that way. Priscilla, I'm afraid, didn't possess that within her to play a character such as that, and so it wasn't long that Bobby and Jenna were merely Bobby and Pamela, but with different names and in different situations. That's the way I saw them at least. Jenna became goody-goody, and I never bought into that. I never imagined her becoming so soft, but she did.

    I've always wished, especially after Jenna was brought on full-time, that Morgan Fairchild would have been the one to fill those shoes. But it didn't happen. Fairchild was a busy actress back in those days, and oddly enough never seemed to have great success in a long-running role. Perhaps Francine Tacker had to tackle the part because Fairchild was on Flamingo Road at the time, and maybe Priscilla got the opportunity because Fairchild was tied up with Paper Dolls. I'm sure the former has more cause to be true than the latter; I tend to believe that CBS hired Priscilla more for her name and the publicity that came with it, rather than her ability to play the part as written. At the same time, however, Fairchild may not have been interested in returning to a role that another actress had already "succeeded" her in.

    Who knows?

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  2. Karin Schill

    Karin Schill Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Maybe I'm in the minority here but I love the character of Jenna Wade as played by Priscilla Presley. :)

    I never liked her much when she first showed up as the first Jenna was portrayed as a gold digger and the second didn't leave an impression at all.

    Priscilla's Jenna however did. She brought elegance and class to the role. She is a classy lady and yes that made Jenna softer as you've pointed out. But I liked her that way. I never saw Jenna and Bobby as being the same as Bobby & Pam. Probably because most of Bobby & Pam's dynamic came from being in the middle of the family fued. Sure they were the young couple when Dallas began and they had a lot of cute moments.

    Bobby and Jenna I see more as a first love kind of thing. They know each other really well and share a history and there is something youthful about them. At the time they get together they are both divorced single parents and together they become some sort of family with their kids. I'm sure that a part of the attraction is trying to recapture their youth and the way things were when they were still in High School, before life got so complicated. But it was not all. If Pam hadn't existed I think I would root for Jenna and Bobby to end up together since I love them as a couple.

    But Pam does exist and I love Bobby and Pamela more. Maybe because the show originally revolved around them so you are supposed to root for them. I'm sure a part of it is also because all the viewers knew that Bobby and Pam never wanted to divorce in the first place and therefore were just waiting for them to get back together again when watching the show.
     
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  3. ClassyCo

    ClassyCo Soap Chat Well-Known Member

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    I see where you're coming from that Bobby and Jenna's feelings stemmed from their being one another's first love. There I will agree entirely.

    However, I must disagree that Priscilla Presley was the better choice for Jenna. Like I said, she was certainly beautiful, but she never quite reached the potential or the viciousness I felt the character should have. I think Dallas could have used the services of a well-written female villain, and Jenna could have certainly been that. But certainly not with Priscilla in the role. Because Priscilla wasn't naturally nasty and didn't have the top of the line acting chops, the role was tailored more to her talents, and really she did become, in my own thoughts anyway, a Pamela filler for Bobby.

    As we all know, Bobby was always the good guy, and on the side of the "angels". That being said, Pamela was squeaky clean, too, and that's what Jenna became, too. I would have liked Bobby to have left Pamela and got tangled up with Jenna, who was still a bit of a gold-digger and that there relationship had trials because Jenna was naughty. But that didn't happen. And, in many ways, Jenna became a bit like Pamela, and it was like Bobby was with Pamela, but she was Jenna, because perhaps the producers realized Bobby needed a Pamela even if that Pamela was Jenna.

    Make sense?
     
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  4. Michael Yule Torrance

    Michael Yule Torrance Soap Chat TV Fanatic

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    I am glad to see I am not the only one who did not like Lucy. Also, the character of Jock as portrayed by the actor was too wooden for my taste. Now, I only saw every single Dallas episode until Ewing inferno, and then sporadically until Bobby died, so I can't talk about the later season characters.
     
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  5. tommie

    tommie Soap Chat Dream Maker

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    I'd say the biggest issue is that they couldn't handle a woman like Susan Flannery - she clearly had no sexual tension with any male cast member, yet they tried to force a Leslie/JR narrative. They didn't know how to write for her, which is a shame because she really could've been a different female rival/villainess on the show.
     
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  6. ClassyCo

    ClassyCo Soap Chat Well-Known Member

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    I think the majority of fans have an indifferent taste in their mouths when comes to Lucy. Her reputation as the series' "poison dwarf" was never really fulfilled.

    In saying that, I must have to disagree with your opinions on Jock. I felt he was the perfect one to keep the family together. He could be crooked himself at times, but he wasn't afraid to put J.R. in his place. J.R. had fear of his father, and knew that dear ole Daddy clearly favored baby brother Bobby, while Momma favored middle son, Gary.

    When Jim Davis died, I'm so glad they didn't recast Jock. He couldn't be replaced, just like it was proven Miss Ellie couldn't be recast, either. Without Jock part of the family glue was lost, and when Miss Ellie was recast, the glue was lost even further, something I'm sure the show never regained.
     
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2018
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  7. tommie

    tommie Soap Chat Dream Maker

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    I feel Lucy was essentially destroyed by making Ray a half-Ewing, which was unnecessary imho.

    It all ended up becoming awkward and they had to distance the characters, which in the long run made Lucy an outcast and almost living in a different Dallasverse.
     
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  8. ClassyCo

    ClassyCo Soap Chat Well-Known Member

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    I agree entirely. Making Ray Jock's illegitimate son was a mistake, on more than one level. In doing that, they did exactly what you said: they distanced the two characters from each other as far as they possibly could, and in doing so, Lucy wasn't evening operating in the same reality anymore.

    They satisfied Steve Kanaly, but angered Charlene Tilton, I'm sure.
     
  9. Santa Swami

    Santa Swami Soap Chat Warrior

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    Hear, hear!

    Swami
     
  10. Karin Schill

    Karin Schill Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Some sense but I still have a completely different interpretation of the Jenna character as I find Jenna & Bobby and Pam & Bobby to be different in their couple dynamics. I do think Jenna is more than a Pam replacement.

    I can't see Jenna as a villain and although a character like that would have caused more tension with Bobby, I like that Dallas had nice characters that you could root for. I think that's where New Dallas went wrong when "they tried to fill the void of JR by making everyone a little bad." That is not a concept that can work IMHO as the audience need characters they can care about and if the characters become too unlikable nobody cares about them! :(

    I mean even a good villian like JR on Dallas, Alexis on Dynasty or Abby on Knots Landing need to have redeeming qualities to soften them around the edges and make the audience like them.

    I think an other major reason why I prefer Priscilla's Jenna is because I began watching the show in season 11 (DVD) so I first saw Jenna with Ray and I saw Priscilla's version of Jenna first and therefore I have come to regard the earlier Jenna's as "the fake Jenna's" much like other fans perceive Donna Reed's Miss Ellie as the "the fake Miss Ellie". See what I mean?
     
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  11. Clubsoda

    Clubsoda Soap Chat Member

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    April as I really hate who Bobby become when he was romantically involved with her plus they have no chemistry as a couple.
     
  12. Willie O! Tannenbaum

    Willie O! Tannenbaum drilling for soap

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    I'm not sure if it was that important. Sex with Ray (Ewing or not) seemed more like wicked fun to me - what else was she supposed to do on that farm?
    And as the daughter of the black sheep of the family it makes sense that she would do these kind of things, or say those kind of things to other people.
    But Pam provided a new role model and maybe that took the "sting" out of Lucy's character.
    Obviously Sue Ellen didn't know how to handle her and that was more fun to watch.
     
  13. Miss Piggy and Toni's Very Glamorous Christmas

    Miss Piggy and Toni's Very Glamorous Christmas Soap Chat Dream Maker

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    The producers weren´t only sexist and misogynistic, but also discriminated not-so-tall actresses. If she had been, at least Lisa Hartman´s high, and could have been able to sing, everybody would have loved seeing Charlene in every "Dallas" scene. Some things are thought but never expressed in words so...nobody here ever thought about this some time? Because nobody could be duller than Hartman when she played Cathy...

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  14. Michael Yule Torrance

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    I remember an episode where Bobby left the office disgusted because Jock approved of J.R.'s dirty tricks. At home he was always attacking Pamela for being a Barnes, and at that first BBQ he demolished Digger. If that is how he showed Bobby was his favorite, then Gary was lucky.
    I don't see Jock at all that way based on what I saw on screen. His death was an amazing blessing in disguise for the show--and it gave birth to some amazing storylines, including the Bobby/J.R. feud.
     
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  15. tommie

    tommie Soap Chat Dream Maker

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    It wrecked all family moments Lucy could've had with the family because - let's face it; Uncle sleeping with Under-Age Niece? Not going to go there.

    So Lucy was sort of removed from the family because they couldn't touch on those issues. If they had dared to adress that - cutting edge soap.
     
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  16. Snarky's Ghost

    Snarky's Ghost Soap Chat Oracle

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    I wanted to see Jeremy Wendell and Lady Jessica and Leslie Stewart all team up as a reptilian trio who plot and scheme to take down JR and the Ewings during DALLAS' closing seasons. Like BATMAN.
     
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  17. Kenny Coyote

    Kenny Coyote Soap Chat Fan

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    I also liked Priscilla Presley's portrayal of Jenna the best of the three actresses who played Jenna. Priscilla as Jenna was more likable than Morgan who played Jenna as more of a gold digger type. Dallas had no need for another character of that type. I'm glad they made Dallas the way they did - with a wide variety of different types of characters. Priscilla's Jenna was proud of her ability to provide for herself and her daughter. I thought the casting of Priscilla and the actress who played Charlie was brilliant - they looked so much like they were mother and daughter it was amazing.

    I agree with you about the combination of nice and not so nice characters in Dallas; that's part of what made it so good. I don't watch a show if it doesn't have any likable characters.
     
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2018
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  18. Snarky's Ghost

    Snarky's Ghost Soap Chat Oracle

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    I agree that Fairchild's Jenna was too opportunistic to have worked with the more worldly Bobby of 1983. I liked Presley's vibe as well, but I thought her best acting occurred in her first year -- after that, I'm not sure I still found her performance as believable.

    To me, Charlie Wade looked like only one person: Pam.... Did the show ever investigate whether Pam might have been the father??
     
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  19. tommie

    tommie Soap Chat Dream Maker

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    Imagine JR's reaction if Jock left something for - not a bastard Ewing, but some opportunistic tramp that happened to show up on the Ewing doorstep?

    Dynamite.
     
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  20. Kenny Coyote

    Kenny Coyote Soap Chat Fan

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    Peter Richards was possibly the worst Dallas character at the time when Dallas was still in its best years. That season would have been much better without Peter and especially without such a ridiculous storyline as Sue Ellen's affair with Peter. Anytime you have a storyline involving one of the central characters who is acting so out of character that it takes your focus away from the story and instead makes you wonder why anyone would have thought it was a good idea to create that storyline, it hurts the credibility of the whole show.
     
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