TV… Dallas (1978-91)

#1970s #1980s #1990s


Loved the original series but the soap’s remake got me in a lather…


On the Ewings and Barnes’ feud in the Big D that was Dallas.


Dallas Promo Collection (1978-91) JAldridge86 and photos © Lorimar


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 1980 (although we have caught up since then via the DVDs).

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 to watch the new one…perhaps it’s because of George Lucas. If your kids don’t understand, just think of how much your parents hated the Star Wars prequel films and how much they detested him after that.

This was especially after they watched Attack of the Clones (2002). This film appeared to be a Star Wars movie co-written by Nicolas Sparks just to appeal to girls. 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 – may 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.

We’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 lifelong 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 Desperate Housewives.

If you don’t remember her, don’t worry…she shot herself in the pilot episode and then narrated it. 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 on 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 on 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 for 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 and was both the former lover of Bobby’s mother, Ellie and also her husband Jock’s arch-rival. Jock Ewing was both an oil baron and Ewing patriarch and was 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 too 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 the 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 for 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 girl’s 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 to do I as did, think of the new one as a 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


The Texas Blogathon 2017, No 51

This review was added to Midnite Drive In‘s The Texas Blogathon. Other reviews with this cast include a list of Patrick Duffy Performances. I’ve also written about the final episode of Dallas named Conundrum here. Ian McShane stars in my John Wick Chapter 1 and Chapter 2 reviews. Larry Hagman appears in Superman and The Eagle Has Landed, Movie Cameos and more. Linda Gray in The Two Worlds of Jennie Logan. My Darlin Dallasers blogathon details are here. George Kennedy’s tribute is here where he stars with a multitude of Dallas stars in his film work.



17 thoughts on “TV… Dallas (1978-91)

  1. My sister was a big fan of “Dallas”. To this day I am sure the only reason she watched it was because it took place in Dallas, where she was born. Then again, she being the type back then , maybe she continued to watch it because she had a crush on Patrick Duffy or one of the other “cute” guys on the show… (That was her reason for watching many shows back then). Personally I couldn’t get into it. Maybe because it was a soap opera for the prime time audience, and I never got into soap operas. Thanks for joining the blogathon.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hey there, love your blog! You are obviously from my generation!! I too loved Dallas growing up. Larry Hagman’s J.R. is one of the all-time great villains of either the small or big screen. (He was a native Texan, too, and so was his mom, the great Broadway star Mary Martin.)

    The revival of Dallas isn’t as bad as you think–Hagman, Duffy and Gray are still in fine form, and the young’uns turn in pretty good performances as well (or at least they’re good eye candy!!).


    Liked by 1 person

    • Aw, thanks – happy you like it. And thanks for the encouraging words re the reboot, I do own them and now I think I will pluck up the courage to watch it. As for the eye candy, Duffy is still a bit of a silver fox and loved him in Welcome to Sweden, so watch this space!


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