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Dallas: Discussion Thread


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1 hour ago, Chris B said:

n 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.

So true, but within the confines of once a week for an hour for 30 or so eps a season they were limited in how far they could take the story away from the leads. That was a problem for all the primetime soaps.

 

1 hour ago, Chris B said:

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

Agree, Cathy Podewell was great and made it work. Totally different character from Sue Ellen

 

1 hour ago, Chris B said:

Lucy has to be the most wasted character of all time.

Part of that was that the writers had a limited view of the character. Lucy was the teen vamp in their eyes and never went beyond that which didn't fit as the character aged.

I don't know why they married her to Mitch, a doctor? Their story was always islanded and treated as filler.

Surely it would have made more sense for Lucy to hook up with a businessman involved in the oil business. That would keep her in the thick of things. Charlene and Larry had great chemistry.

5 hours ago, FrenchBug82 said:

Recasting Ellie was a much bigger misstep than the misguided attempt at resurrecting a recast Jock

I guess they decided to go in a different direction as Barbara was irreplaceable but it was a bone headed move.

I always wondered how Hope Lange would have worked as Ellie

 

Giving JR a son was a smart move but several seasons too late.

Having Sue Ellen move into the lingerie business was amusing but ultimately led nowhere. Again she should have been involved with something that kept her within the Ewing circle.

Giving JR a son was a good move but several seasons too late.

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I knew from the minute I saw that Jock’s body wasn’t recovered from the helicopter crash that he’d eventually be back.

 

The Parmalee story was good, except for the weird, abrupt ending. Every single thing was pointing to him being Jock, and then they did a 180. David Paulsen said they did not intend for him to be Jock, but I suspect they were borrowing heavily from a story plotted out in the previous dream season, when Ben Stivers was going to be Jock.

 

I also didn’t buy Steve Forrest as a potential Jock. Physically he was wrong for the role and didn’t have the same presence. I could never have accepted him as the character.

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I agree with the show wanting to keep Larry & Patrick happy at all times. Leonard Katzman made sure of that at the expense of the women on the show. Katzman battled with Phil Capice during his time on the show and David Jacobs had very little involvement beyond the first couple of seasons. He would sit in on meeting once a season to get the run down of was being done. It became Katzman's baby quickly after the mini series and he ran with it. Jacobs did tell Katzman that the dream idea was stupid when he told him how they were bringing Patrick back. 

 

Jacob said he originally planned for Bobby to be sort of a playboy and have no interest in the oil business. Bobby would rather take off with Pam to Hawaii or Vegas etc... and Pam would have to set him straight and settle him down to go to work. Bobby was written to be the moral compass of the show and quickly became boring. 

 

Jacobs said Linda Gray was so funny in real life and wish some of that would be incorporated into Sue Ellen, but she was written to have little humor if at all and to be made a perpetual victim. 

 

Jacobs also said Pamela Barnes Ewing should have been the best character he ever created for TV, but she was not written that way and became a damaged victim.

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Sue Ellen in later seasons did display some humor..and I think Pamela was an awesome character even during the victim years (due to Victoria Principal's likability).

 

Pamela leaving threw the show off balance...Jr vs Pamela was a consistent thread throughout the show...and no one really replaced Pamela despite the show changing April's grey character into a goody goody 

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1 hour ago, Soaplovers said:

Sue Ellen in later seasons did display some humor..and I think Pamela was an awesome character even during the victim years (due to Victoria Principal's likability).

 

Pamela leaving threw the show off balance...Jr vs Pamela was a consistent thread throughout the show...and no one really replaced Pamela despite the show changing April's grey character into a goody goody 

I liked Victoria as Pam. I stopped caring about the show when she left. Those last seasons of Dallas were dreadful. I only bought the DVD's through Victoria's run. 

 

Dallas should have wrapped things up before they started losing the vast majority of original cast members. 

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, Soaplovers said:

and no one really replaced Pamela despite the show changing April's grey character into a goody goody 


April should have been written out after Bobby found out she had once slept with JR.
News to writers: chemistry or not, if for a romance to work you need to change the characters involved - by turning April into a saint all of a sudden and making Bobby renege on his long-held and very solid principle of not hooking up where JR has been - then it should be a no-go, period. 
If they wanted a pseudo-replacement for Pamela they should have introduced a new character altogether - especially since investing in April ended up for naught when the actress got pregnant.
April was fine for a while but what they did to pair her with Bobby was just bad writing.

And ultimately I will say this: I think the problem was that Bobby wasn't a very good character and he wasn't easy to write something solid for. As Soaplovers said, it is JR vs Pamela that was the thoroughline of the show. Bobby was actually secondary to it.
When she left it all fell on Bobby to balance JR and there were never enough layers to that character to make it work, no matter how charismatic Duffy was. 
That's why almost everything that involved him but not Pamela - when she was there and after she was gone - ended up a dud - from Jenna to April to other subplots. He just wasn't that interesting and while I would not have killed him off when Duffy wanted out in the first place, he wasn't worth the damage to the credibility to the show to bring back. Whatever they paid him should have gone to a raise to VP to keep her.

Edited by FrenchBug82
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Great post. I agree with pretty much everything you wrote.

 

I viewed Dallas not as the story of the Ewings, but of the Ewing and the Barnes families. And J.R. and Pam were the most important members of their respective families. And Bobby was caught in the middle. Great setup. It was a three legged stool that would not function as well without one of the legs.

 

That said, if you had to lose one of them, then Bobby more expendable than J.R. or Pam. As much as I dislike the direction of the dream season, the show functioned better without Bobby than it did without Pam. And there was so much potential in that setup, but the writers blew it.

 

The producers didn’t recognize Pamela’s importance to the show and were short sighted in letting Victoria Principal walk away. I think there was some sexism involved there, because they believed that Dallas was about the men. And despite what Victoria says now, they could have kept her. She was in negotiations and she wanted salary parity with Patrick Duffy (as well as a one-year deal).

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Posted (edited)
5 hours ago, Chris 2 said:

I think there was some sexism involved there, because they believed that Dallas was about the men. 


Yes! That's a really key element I should have mentioned but YES. You are so right to bring it up. A HUGE problem with Dallas was that the people who created it and wrote it thought it was a show about the MEN and women characters functioned around them. That's how they missed how crucial Pamela was.
I recently read a lengthy analysis of every season of Knots Landing and one KL writer explained that the season that was headwritten by a former Dallas writer (whose name escapes me) didn't work because he came in with the POV that Dallas was a show about men and he then struggled when trying to write Knots Landing where the female characters had already been established much stronger.

But bringing it back to Dallas, that was the first time I realized that the writers were actually pretty open about that worldview and it was not just sexist subtext, which I had until then assumed. They really embraced it and wrote the show with that mindset.
There were many sexist plot points that were easy to spot even at the time, but that also influenced bigger "strategic" calls: that's how we ended up with Pamela being written as a victim and then let go, Jenna being transparent as a character, Ellie being recast without second-thoughts, April defanged to get her man, Sue Ellen having none of the spirit and humor of LG, etc... Whether in writing or BTS decisions, it is clear sexism was at hand and it hurt the show.
Everything we mentioned in this thread in the past few days can be traced back to that worldview of Dallas as a men's world.

Edited by FrenchBug82
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Posted (edited)
8 hours ago, Elsa said:

Sexism is the new racism in the soap boards.

Men were the stars on Dallas, women were the stars on Dynasty and Knots Landing.

 

Agreed -- and it was very obvious.  Of all the prime time soaps, Falcon Crest seemed the most balanced with a slight edge given to the women.  Jane Wyman / Angela was clearly the star, with Chase and Richard written as her rivals.  Maggie and Melissa were the heroines caught up in romantic entanglements.

Edited by gimmetoo
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8 hours ago, Elsa said:

Sexism is the new racism in the soap boards.

Men were the stars on Dallas, women were the stars on Dynasty and Knots Landing.

 

I would say JR was the star on Dallas, but Sue Ellen and Pamela were also huge names, probably as much as Bobby. I liked Bobby, and I even liked his relationship with April, but I don't disagree with those who feel he was a bit thin under Duffy's charm. (I will say I think Pam was a bit thin too, at least once the more complex writing of the first few seasons left)

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2 hours ago, DRW50 said:

 

I would say JR was the star on Dallas, but Sue Ellen and Pamela were also huge names, probably as much as Bobby. I liked Bobby, and I even liked his relationship with April, but I don't disagree with those who feel he was a bit thin under Duffy's charm. (I will say I think Pam was a bit thin too, at least once the more complex writing of the first few seasons left)


Obviously Dallas was JR and JR was Dallas. Sometimes for great, sometimes a bit too much.

But the choice of writing the men as "the stars" of the show was not a natural occurence, the way the women on Knots Landing for instance stood out despite the fact the writing was initially balanced.
It was an intentional choice on the part of the creators, based on their worldview, and they stubbornly clung to it when other possibilities arose and female actresses overshone some of the intended "stars". A good show runner has a vision and then adapts that vision for what organically comes up on-screen. In this case, they didn't and I think it was at least partially about sexism as it was about their ego-driven need to insist they are right.
I think the show would have been better had they realized that Sue Ellen and Pamela, who both were a lot more interesting, layered and likeable characters than Bobby and Cliff, should have been JR's main adversaries and foils. 
 

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19 minutes ago, FrenchBug82 said:


Obviously Dallas was JR and JR was Dallas. Sometimes for great, sometimes a bit too much.

But the choice of writing the men as "the stars" of the show was not a natural occurence, the way the women on Knots Landing for instance stood out despite the fact the writing was initially balanced.
It was an intentional choice on the part of the creators, based on their worldview, and they stubbornly clung to it when other possibilities arose and female actresses overshone some of the intended "stars". A good show runner has a vision and then adapts that vision for what organically comes up on-screen. In this case, they didn't and I think it was at least partially about sexism as it was about their ego-driven need to insist they are right.
I think the show would have been better had they realized that Sue Ellen and Pamela, who both were a lot more interesting, layered and likeable characters than Bobby and Cliff, should have been JR's main adversaries and foils. 

 

Honestly, if the show had not been so JR-heavy I think I'd be more connected to it. I feel like he was a suffocating presence in the long run.

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Posted (edited)
9 hours ago, DRW50 said:

 

I would say JR was the star on Dallas, but Sue Ellen and Pamela were also huge names, probably as much as Bobby. I liked Bobby, and I even liked his relationship with April, but I don't disagree with those who feel he was a bit thin under Duffy's charm. (I will say I think Pam was a bit thin too, at least once the more complex writing of the first few seasons left)

Victoria Principal said after the first 5 years she felt the writing declined and she made plans to leave the series. She gave them advanced notice. David Jacobs said that Bobby became bland and boring when he became the moral compass of the show. Jacobs said Pamela Barnes Ewing should have been the best character he ever created, but with the eventual way she was written she didn't turn out that way. He was also brutally honest that Linda, Victoria, and Charlene weren't terrific actresses, but they played their parts well as written.

 

He said he often had to remind Katzman and others involved with the show.....it all comes back to these 7 characters. Later on the show lost them all but 2 and it slid into the toilet.

 

7 hours ago, DRW50 said:

 

Honestly, if the show had not been so JR-heavy I think I'd be more connected to it. I feel like he was a suffocating presence in the long run.

Kind of like Victor on Y&R......LOL

Edited by SoapDope
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