1970s, Drama, Main Features, Soap Opera, TV Series

Dallas (1978-91)

Main Features No 26

Dallas, the Soap Which Got Me in a Lather..

 

From the late 70s to the early 90s,  I was obsessed with the soap Dallas tuning in regularly to see J.R and his family the Ewings. This review only covers the original series.. only briefly mentioning the recent Dallas 2012.

 

Dallas Promo Collection (1978-91) JAldridge86, http://www.youtube.com and photographs © Lorimar (former photograph) and Warner Horizon television (latter photograph).

 

Guys grab your Stetson, best flares and cowboy boots, and girls fetch your shoulder padded frock and your killer heels, we’re going back to the late 1970s, that is if you want to watch the original Dallas (1978) series right from the start. On your visit, tell me and my sisters to watch it on TV as for us we sadly joined the programme in early in 1980 (although we have caught up since then via the DVDs). In 1980, my sisters and I, were also avid viewers of the retro classics as seen in the trailer above. Anyway one day the three of us had just come back from visiting my grandmother in sunny Glasgow. There we watched Dallas and on our return home gittered non-stop about the programme. This programme alone resulted in my parents despairing of us, their offspring for 12 years. In fact it’s longer than that time as we still discuss it between us, watch the repeats avidly and tune in to watch the cast on chat shows. We are also glued to reunion shows and Dallas star real life cameos on Family Guy (1999-). In the latter, Patrick Duffy (Bobby) and Victoria Principal (Pam) appeared spoofing the infamous dream episode. Luckily my darlin’ husband understands. In a more recent reunion programme, I watched the British national treasure, John Barrowman interview the original cast of Dallas promoting the then new Dallas 90210 2012 (2012-2014). I scowled at the new photogenic cast and visibly cringed when Barrowman gushed at the actress, Linda Gray (Sue Ellen Shepherd Ewing Ewing Lockwood). My sister also recently treated me to an autographed copy of Linda’s autobiography “The Road to Happiness.. is always under construction” (2015) which fittingly sits on a bookshelf next to the autobiography, personally autographed by her screen husband Mr J.R. Ewing himself, Larry Hagman…(expect a couple of book reviews once I get my arse in gear).

So this review is about the original, Dallas series. I haven’t dared watch the new one…perhaps it’s because of George Lucas. If you kids don’t understand, just think of how much your parents hate the Star Wars prequel films and how much they detested him after that, Especially after they watched the Attack of the Clones (2002).This film appeared to be a Star Wars movie co-written by Nicolas Sparks just to appeal to girls. Which it doesn’t. At all. My younger stepdude insists he never has to watch it as he insists as he eloquently said in English a “ladies film” like Frozen (2013). THAT feeling of pure hatred is what we Dallasers – or whatever we are called – experience after even hearing about the new Dallas series. I personally really didn’t care about what the Ewing kids, John Ross and Christopher had done in the gap years between the series’ or were doing now. I’d made our own endings of what happened to J.R., Sue Ellen and Bobby after the reunion movies. J.R. and Sue Ellen – in my mind – had  remarried (again) and  were on a life long honeymoon in Paris on the Ewing Oil sale proceeds and Bobby had taken up with old flame, Jenna again and had taken up ranching.

What we didn’t want was original Dallas actors bundled into a sequel with half the supporting cast of the recently ended series Desperate Housewives (2004-12) cast as lesser Ewings. Or to see Lee Majors in the billing, as we hoped to always remember him as The Fall Guy (1981-86). Bobby’s new wife Ann Ewing, was played by Brenda Strong had acted previously as Mary Alice Young in of Desperate Housewives. If you don’t remember her, she shot herself in the pilot episode. Hearing about new Dallas made Pam’s scream when Bobby died in the original series seem like a minor upset. This comment alone will separate the original Dallas fans from the new generation fans who didn’t read up the plot from the 357 episodes before this. They are now thinking..but how come Bobby is alive in the 2012 version….

So why review the original Dallas? Simply, my family and friends would be concerned if I didn’t. Admittedly 30 and a bit years have passed since it started and that’s a long time to be a fan of the original series and to admire the cast, especially Larry Hagman, Patrick Duffy and Linda Gray. I have only watched J.R.’s funeral via a clip in YouTube. I did cry of course but not as much as when he got shot in the original series way back in 1980. But that was because the eulogy was one to one of the world’s favourite characters, and read by J.R.’S ex-wife, Sue Ellen (Gray) and sadly a television goodbye to the then recently deceased Larry Hagman who played him.

Dallas in 1978 started by telling us about how younger, then mulleted, big flared Bobby (Duffy) brings his lovely young wife Pamela (Victoria Principal) home to meet his family, the Ewings. Something is amiss, nobody is happy but them. He’d only gone and married the daughter of Willard Barnes. Willard was Pam’s then presumed father was both the former lover of Bobby’s mother, Ellie and also her husband Jock’s arch rival. Jock Ewing, was both oil baron and Ewing patriarch and played by Jim Davis. Ellie by the equally then legendary Barbara Bel Geddes. So anyway, Pamela’s brother Cliff (Ken Kercheval)and Bobby’s brother John Ross jnr (J.R.) ain’t to happy either.

Over 13 seasons and 3 TV movies there were weddings, shootings, remarriages, adulteries, rodeos, barbecues, accidents, Oil Barons Balls, long-lost relatives, cliffhangers, resurrections, and fights aplenty. Not forgetting one very bad dream. Plots ranged from the absurd – see the whole of 9th season – to the insane – see the final episode.  Plotlines included guessing the identities of who shot X Ewing (fill in the blank as applies), who fathered Y (fill in with your choice), Sue Ellen’s lingerie company and alcoholism, J.R.’s numerous dealings and Bobby’s blindness. There were also topical 1980s storylines such as Pam’s aerobics company and Sue Ellen’s toyboy (a close friend remembers Peeder Peter’s swimming shorts far too vividly). There was acting support from a who’s who of 1980s actors including John Beck (from what I’ve been told the far superior Rollerball (1975)), Priscilla Presley (Elvis’ ex-wife and Leslie Neilsen’s love interest  The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad! (1988)), Morgan Fairchild (Chandler’s mum in Friends (1994-2004)), Lesley Ann Down (love interest to Patrick Swizzle Swayze’s Orry Main in the 1980s mini series North and South (1983)) and Paul Gleason (Mr Vernon in The Breakfast Club (1985)) . Other acting support included Howard Keel (known from musical films back in the day), Barbara Eden (Hagman’s co-star in I Dream of Jeannie (1965-70), and Ian McShane (Lovejoy (1986)). Bond Girls, Barbara Carrera aka Fatima Blush (Never say Never Again (1983)) and Lois Chiles aka Dr. Holly Hardon Goodhead (Moonraker (1979)). Thanks for the help with the names of the Bond girls Darlin’ Husband. There was also a then little known actor who played Charlie Wade’s boyfriend – Charlie was Jenna’s daughter and her father was….  – named Randy played by Brad Pitt.

So my advice is do I as did, think of the new one as bad dream lasting 3 seasons, and yes, my mind may well change once I get the guts to watch it. Instead Hollywood, please make a fun parody of another classic 1980s soap, with the then style of the shoulder pads, flares etc. Add a famous, well-known, older cast that it deserves and throw in a bucket load of clichéd plots and lines… and Seth McFarlane to write it. This recipe could so work with the original Dallas’s then ratings rival Dynasty (1981-89). In your remake, “Dienasty, the Revenge” cast Michael Douglas as Blake and Catherine Zeta Jones as Alexis. Finally, approach Joan Collins and beg her to play Alexis’s mother… But back to the ranch that is Dallas and as my ratings encompass most of the 357 episodes.. expect some darn high ones.

 

Weeper Rating: 😦 😦 😦 😦 😦😦 😦 😦 😦 :-(/10

Handsqueeze Rating: 🙂  🙂  🙂 🙂 🙂  🙂  🙂 🙂  🙂 🙂 /10

Hulk Rating: ‎ ‎mrgreen  ‎mrgreen  ‎mrgreen  ‎mrgreen  ‎mrgreen  ‎mrgreen  ‎mrgreen  ‎mrgreen  ‎mrgreen  ‎mrgreen mrgreen  ‎/10

Bonus Trailer: Yes, Parody

 

Kenny Everett does Dallas and Dynasty parody, Soap Chat, http://www.youtube.com
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