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Dallas: Discussion Thread


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19 minutes ago, FrenchBug82 said:

Inspired by the fact Jane Wyman is the thumbnail for one of the two promos above, I'd compare the Falcon finale with Dallas' and say that while Falcon Crest was absolutely horrible in its last season, worse than Dallas, and didn't quite neatly tie up everything in its finale either, it ended up with that beautiful speech that was simple but conveyed the emotional resonance of the show and the characters, even if we didn't get any guest stars or interesting plots. So it left a good taste because it acknowledged the emotional attachment of fans of the show (and you'd have to be a fan to still have been watching by that point).

As someone said above, Dallas' finale was unsatisfying AND bleak. That's a bad combination.

 

It's something that Jane Wyman, who was seriously ill, apparently went against doctor's orders to return for the final few episodes, and even wrote that lovely speech to tie up loose ends and remind viewers of the themes of Falcon Crest one last time. Larry Hagman presumably cared a lot about Dallas, but if he had any real influence over the end of Dallas, I sure couldn't see it. 

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I think Dallas ended differently than FC because they believed or hoped they'd be back in maybe midseason replacement or reunion movies. FC knew there wouldn't be such thing.

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On 4/17/2021 at 10:39 AM, te. said:

The first half of the dream season is quite good to be fair, it's the second half that got into a bit of a rambling mess with the jungle and Nero stuff.

 

Yep - and that’s when the ratings really started falling off. The episodes during the latter half of the dream season were frequently  no longer even in the top 15.

 

Ratings had even started to decline a bit at the end of the previous season (1984-85). How many more times could you break up/reunite the couples, or have the Ewings fighting for Ewing Oil? Bobby’s death was a chance to reinvent the show. But the new writers/producers blew it. And Lorimar and the network were more than happy to go back to the tried and true for the 1986-87 season. But the gas in that tank was almost gone. After one decent season following Bobby’s return, the quality of the show plummeted.

 

The finale was another missed opportunity - in this case, to wrap things up nicely and go out strongly. CBS still hadn’t officially cancelled it when production started on the final episode. Hagman was still hoping for another season. So they designed an episode which would bring back old characters, but not force the writers to explain where the returnees disappeared to in case of another season. So we got another dream. Ugh. Victoria Principal said at the time she was willing to return to put a “coda” on her stint as Pam, but she didn’t want to be part of another cliffhanger. We could have had a great reunion for Bobby and Pam had the production company been willing to make the call on the series ending.

Edited by Chris 2
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The series finale wasn't a dream. Victoria didn't like the script for the finale that's why she didn't return.  The beginning of 85-86 was Jr vs Pam which should've last all season plus Mandy vs Sue Ellen which we got the season afterwards. Jenna dealing with Bobby's child. Bringing back Mark was a mistake. Pam and Mark never worked for me.

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I realize this is a woulda, coulda, shoulda but I think everyone understood the show was dying in its last season so I wish producers had had the guts at the outset to say this was going to be the last season so let's write a huge umbrella story that is going to bring back old characters in various ways to set up the final episode as a comeuppance to JR.

I could have taken the JR suicide cliffhanger if it was the result of a well-constructed season-long plot instead of hastily put-together cameos. 
Instead of convenient last-minute plot points to explain how he would be driven to kill himself (which the JR we knew wouldn't), make it slow and excruciating and serious enough that we would understand how he'd get to that point. How does the ultimate survivor feel he genuinely can't get back up this time?
Bobby and him had fought before but what if JR had been helping hide Pamela all along? That's a relationship breaker here and there and gets VP back for a satisfying bow on the Bobby/Pam romance. That gets him kicked out of Southfork, his home. Etc. 
Instead of the random Barbara Eden character and Michelle, weave a large conspiracy of old characters to take Ewing Oil away from JR: opportunity for a gazillion fun cameos for those who wanted only a bit appearance, more for a few willing to sign on for several episodes.
Bringing back old characters would have been satisfying EVEN more so in the service of a complicated story that leads to that final moment. 
Make Cliff taking control of Ewing a real "moment" rather than an ironic wink at the last minute.

Problem with those finales is that producers seem to think of them as "wrapping up the stories we currently have on-screen" rather than "wrapping up an entire world fans have invested in for more than a decade". I get that money can be an issue in a declining show but there is no excuse for the lack of creative ambition when you have so much material and so many characters on the table.

I am not sure how aware the Knots Landing folks were their last season was going to be their last and their last season had weak moments but it did set up a large story that slowly built up over the season, pulling together every character, bringing back Val a few episodes before the end until the finale reveal that the mastermind behind the season-long plot was Abby who hadn't been on for several seasons but who came back for the finale.
I wouldn't give them an A+ for the finale but in terms of creative ambition and understanding how to give some semblance of satisfaction to fans they definitely did it a lot better.

Edited by FrenchBug82
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1 hour ago, Soapsuds said:

The series finale wasn't a dream. Victoria didn't like the script for the finale that's why she didn't return. 

Sure it was - it was a two-hour fantasy about JR seeing what life would be like if he had never been born. Dream or fantasy - same thing to me.

 

I agree with you that bringing back Mark was a mistake. It seemed like a big step back for Pam. But the the producers seemingly couldn’t stand having any woman on the show single for more than a few episodes. Pam could have been single for a while, and then used a new romance as an opportunity to bring in a new character.

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The Dallas finale stank. The show was way passed it's expiration date by the late 80's. The loss of Victoria Principal as Pamela was the final nail in the coffee. The writers made several mistakes over the years that really drove the show into the ground. 

 

A few of my pet peeves were:

 

* Dragging out Jock Ewing's death and having him die in helicopter crash. I think they should of had him die at Southfork with Miss Ellie at his side or finding him. The writers toyed with viewers that Jock was not dead and did that Wes Parmalee storyline. Jim Davis could not be replaced and viewers balked.

 

*Bringing Bobby back from the dead. Patrick screwed up when he insisted they kill him off the show. Then they brought him back when he couldn't find work in a stunt and erased a whole entire season as a dream. The show became a joke and several other shows like Newhart spoofed it. Victoria Principal caught flack for it as well. 

 

* The way they wrote Pamela Barnes Ewing out in a explosive car crash. Then had her run away and recast with a look a like just to kill her off. Katherine also showed up and then disappeared never to be seen again.

 

* Killing off Kristen early in the shows run. Kristen could have driven storyline for years. 

 

* What was the point of Jenna ? Seriously ? When she returned in 1983 they started that crap again about Bobby possibly being the father of Charlie. Didn't she already admit he was not in 1978 ? Oh, I guess that didn't count since it was Morgan Fairchild's version.

 

* Everything they did with Lucy was a bust. Lucy & Mitch what was the point of that marriage ?

 

 

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By comparison, the Cheers finale a few years later got a 45.5 rating. Even Frasier and Family Ties, which were not the blockbuster hits that Dallas was, had higher rated finales. Shows how much they had alienated the show’s once-huge audience.

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16 minutes ago, SoapDope said:

 

 

*Bringing Bobby back from the dead. Patrick screwed up when he insisted they kill him off the show. Then they brought him back when he couldn't find work in a stunt and erased a whole entire season as a dream. The show became a joke and several other shows like Newhart spoofed it. Victoria Principal caught flack for it as well. 

 

* The way they wrote Pamela Barnes Ewing out in a explosive car crash. Then had her run away and recast with a look a like just to kill her off. Katherine also showed up and then disappeared never to be seen again.

 

* Killing off Kristen early in the shows run. Kristen could have driven storyline for years. 

 

* What was the point of Jenna ? Seriously ? When she returned in 1983 they started that crap again about Bobby possibly being the father of Charlie. Didn't she already admit he was not in 1978 ? Oh, I guess that didn't count since it was Morgan Fairchild's version.

 

* Everything they did with Lucy was a bust. Lucy & Mitch what was the point of that marriage ?


There is some stuff for me to nitpick here:

* The Wes Parmalee story was definitely a misfire but did it really matter in the scheme of things? Even in its best days, the show had its fair share of dud stories; Dallas for better or for worse wasn't a well-plotted show (much better than Dynasty, mind you). You tuned in because it had great characters.

* Killing Bobby was the mistake. Boy, did Duffy f*** up there.  But, yeah, the dream was... a bold choice. That I could have almost accepted if they had been coherent how they tied the loose ends. But it was a last minute bit of cleverness and they clearly hadn't thought the follow-up through. Any fan can list the long list of things that were left over from "before the dream" that it made no sense not to be addressed again if the dream season was a dream.

* I personally think Kristin was a powerful character when she was on but her value would have dwindled over time and I am not upset she was written out. I do not agree she had years of stories in her although they could have kept her alive and sprung her for a surprise revenge later (typically the kind of character it would have been fun to bring back for the lead-up to a JR comeuppance finale).

* I don't think Jenna was a well-written character but she provided a useful obstacle for Pam/Bobby and I was OK with that. And the minute you accept a different actress playing the same character, you have to suspend disbelief as to the inconsistencies with the earlier tale. It wasn't absurd to revisit it and it was quickly resolved so ... fine. Again, Dallas wasn't that good at plotting but the character interaction worked in the grand scheme of the Pam/Bobby story.
* Lucy was useless from Day One.

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1 hour ago, FrenchBug82 said:


There is some stuff for me to nitpick here:

* The Wes Parmalee story was definitely a misfire but did it really matter in the scheme of things? Even in its best days, the show had its fair share of dud stories; Dallas for better or for worse wasn't a well-plotted show (much better than Dynasty, mind you). You tuned in because it had great characters.

 

Yes, but many people loved Jock, and then Jim Davis had actually passed away in real life. I can see why they were put off. Imagine if BBG had passed away and they kept trying to bring poor Donna Reed in as a not-really-dead Miss Ellie. Even recasting Miss Ellie with BBG still alive upset many fans.

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20 minutes ago, DRW50 said:

 

Yes, but many people loved Jock, and then Jim Davis had actually passed away in real life. I can see why they were put off. Imagine if BBG had passed away and they kept trying to bring poor Donna Reed in as a not-really-dead Miss Ellie. Even recasting Miss Ellie with BBG still alive upset many fans.


Recasting Ellie was a much bigger misstep than the misguided attempt at resurrecting a recast Jock - especially since it turned out he wasn't Jock on-screen so viewers did not know they had once wanted to go through with it.

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1 hour ago, Elsa said:

Didn't they repeat the Wes story the next year? With the same actor?

Yes and it was a fantastic story! I loved the nod at the end that he *was* Jock but left so he didn't cause his family more pain. That was a story that shouldn't have worked, but did. 

 

In general what hurt Dallas is they didn't build for the future. They were so concerned with making sure Larry Hagman and Patrick Duffy were happy that they didn't care about anything else. A character like Jamie was great. She was a Ewing, experienced in the oil business (could've been useful at Ewing Oil) and had great chemistry with Cliff. Killing her off TWICE instead of developing her more was insane. Then as yall have mentioned, they did nothing useful with Jenna. Donna literally spent her entire final season in another state! There is just so much they could've done but they didn't even try.

 

Of the new characters I feel the strongest was Cally. The actress took a comical role and added depth that made it believable that she would be with JR. I also feel like Lucy had potential in this time period, but they never even attempted a story with her. Lucy has to be the most wasted character of all time. I wish she had gone back to Knots Landing.

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