Basement Party 2

Basement Party 2

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Tube Time - DALLAS

I haven't had too many posts about old TV shows, so I thought it was high time I wrote something up. So starting today I will have a semi-regular feature called "Tube Time."

On my streaming Netflix I have been slowly watching every episode of the A-Team. Just last night I completed season 3, which means I have 2 seasons left. Expect a posting once I finish the show, which will be kind of a retrospective on the series. Today I'm going to write about a show that is  from the same time period but a little more...dramatic. That show is "Dallas." One word to describe it? Epic.

The first (and I think greatest) of the legendary '70s-'80s primetime soap operas (Dynasty, Falcon Crest, etc.) told the story of a Texas oil company run by gruff old-timer John Ross "Jock" Ewing and his 2 sons: the manipulative John  Ross Jr., or J.R. (played by "I Dream of Jeannie" star Larry Hagman) and Bobby, the  honorable son (played by Patrick Duffy, later of "Step by Step"). The show was ubiquitous when I was growing up, and the theme song and opening credits were indelibly burned into my mind. Here's a clip to refresh your memories...


My personal memories of the show date back to 1984 or so, watching it with my parents. I'm certain that I didn't know a lot about what was going on in any given episode, but I remember the characters being compelling. I even remember the episode where Bobby Ewing dies!

Don't worry, he gets better in a controversial retcon the end of the next season which said it was "it was all a dream" (and I thought comics had shitty explanations for returning dead characters!)

The show ran for a staggering 13 seasons (and also had spin-off called "Knots Landing," featuring the black sheep of the family, middle son Gary Ewing). I remember it being a big deal when it went off the air, ending on a cliff-hanger where it looked like J.R. killed himself after a supernatural encounter:

Don't worry, he survived to star in two reunion films that came out in the late '90s and will also be part of a new "Dallas" series to air this summer on TNT featuring the next generation of Ewings. A little over a year ago I watched part of a marathon of episodes and found them to be well-done and highly entertaining, so I put disc one of season one on Netflix (it's not streaming unfortunately). It came in the mail earlier this week and I watched it this past Wednesday evening while I laid on the couch sick as a dog.

Holy crap did I enjoy the heck out of those first 3 episodes! They had great acting, great writing, and interesting characters and stories. THIS is how primetime TV used to be, back when there were only 3 networks and millions of people all watched the same shows which were of the highest quality possible. With cable and other media diluting everything these days, primetime has turned into a wasteland of by-the-numbers procedural cop shows and *shudder* glorified talent shows. Plus, being the retrologist I am, I love all of the '70s fashions, including the suits and ties. I need an entire wardrobe of clothes like this I can wear to work.

The crux of the show was that the good son Bobby eloped with Pamela, the daughter of Jock's old business partner, Diggar Barnes. Jock kind of screwed over ol' Diggar back in the day (and also stole his woman, Miss Ellie), so there's a lot of enmity there, leading Diggar to be a broken down old drunk. To add to the drama, Diggar's son and Pamela's brother, Cliff, Barnes, acts as legal counsel to a government investigation of the Ewing's business doings. The chess game is set! Other drama includes Jock's granddaughter and Gary's daughter Lucy having an affair with the foreman of the Ewing's ranch, Ray Krebbs (who used to date Pamela). J.R. was also having an affair with his secretary, played by Tina Louise (better known as Ginger from "Gilligan's Island"), who in turn was feeding information to Cliff. Oh what a tangled web they weaved...

Anyway, I'm going to keep watching, and follow the show through the many seasons. It's going to take some time, but I think it will be worth it. And since I don't have cable anymore, I won't have any other shows competing for my attention. They probably wouldn't be as good anyway. Before I wrap this post up, here's a clip of J.R. being his lovable, slimy self towards his new sister-in-law:

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