1980. Where were you when JR was shot? Oh ya! Glued to the TV and waiting all through the summer to find out the answer to TV’s first trendsetting cliff hanger!
English: Larry Hagman attending the “Night of 100 Stars” for the 82nd Academy Awards viewing party at the Beverly Hills Hotel, Beverly Hills, CA on March 7, 2010 – Photo by Glenn Francis of http://www.PacificProDigital.com (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I was sitting at the theatre one hot day in Houston, patiently watching the ads that I pay for, when the music hit me. “I KNOW that music! OH MY GOD! It’s DALLAS!” I nearly jumped out of my seat with a standing ovation at the end of the ad. I don’t THINK I was the only person applauding, but I have to admit I was so damn excited that I really didn’t pay any attention to what other patrons were doing. Maybe what they were ACTUALLY doing was looking at me like I’d just tipped out of my rocker….
I’ll admit it. I was in Jr. High (1980) the year JR was shot by an unknown assailant. My entire family had to be home to tune in every week to watch JR and Bobby in their eternal struggle of good vs evil. My dad found a cartoon in the newspaper: The unmasking of “Darth Vader”, guess who was the face under the black mask of evil? JR Ewing of course! HA! We stuck that one on our fridge. I wore my “I Shot JR” button every day that summer, and even the Queen of England waited with bated breath for the season opener that would answer that question. 90 million American viewers tuned in along with her to have the answer. This record was beaten only by the last episode of M.A.S.H in 1983. Internationally, DALLAS still holds the record for most watched episode with 360 MILLION viewers tuned in. That’s TV history, baby! So was I excited to learn that it was coming back on the air? YOU BET I WAS!
Initially, It worried me that the old characters, JR (Larry Hagman), Bobby (Patrick Duffy), and Sue Ellen (Linda Grey) would only be used as a bridge to the next generation then would fade out quickly as the show progressed. I mean really and truly, DALLAS just wouldn’t be DALLAS without JR and Larry Hagman’s BRILLIANT portrayal of evil incarnate. (I just love how the older he gets, the crazier his eyebrows get. It’s hard to believe he’s the same guy who played the lovable astronaut in “I Dream of Jeanie” so many years ago.) It seems after three episodes however, that my fears were (hopefully) unfounded. It seems the story line is evolveing in such a way that the Ewing first generation will be sticking around for a while. They are integral to the plot… which is of course, battling royally over the rights to Southfork, and oil. (I mean what else would it be about? It is Texas after all!)
The original cast of Dallas. Clockwise from top right are: Larry Hagman (in cowboy hat), Linda Gray, Jim Davis, Charlene Tilton, Victoria Principal, Patrick Duffy, and Barbara Bel Geddes (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I was also worried that this new generation wouldn’t be able to measure up. Well, it seems those fears are unfounded as well. John Ross (Josh Henderson of “Desperate Housewives” and a real Dallas(ian) ) is just as devious as a chip off the old block. He soon finds out though, that he still needs more lessons in deviousness and taking on dear old dad in a battle concerning oil just may be a fatal mistake. I can’t help but feel that JR is rather proud of his son’s attempt to cut him out of billions of barrels of oil, though so watch and learn John Ross, watch and learn! Christopher (Jesse Metcalfe… Desperate Housewives… again) is just as soft and left-wing as old Bobby, even if he isn’t “of the blood”, a fact his cousin so loves to keep reminding him. Different than Bobby though, his need to prove himself as Ewing, gives him a sharper edge that Bobby never had.
Bobby’s new wife, Ann (Brenda Strong… Desperate Housewives… Wisteria Lane moves to Southfork) , is an interesting addition to the family. Texan to the core I wouldn’t be surprised to bump into Ann in Wal-Mart purchasing pink rifles as Christmas presents. (As a Canuck now living in Texas, I have a culturally more informed perspective than I used to….) It’s wide open for the return of Pamela (Victoria Principal) however, as all we know about her character is that she abandoned Bobby and young Christopher for who knows where… just anywhere JR wasn’t I’m sure. Pamela’s brother, Cliff Barnes (Ken Kercheval), however makes an appearance and the scene between himself, JR and Bobby is priceless. Three old buggers who swear they will be dancing on each other’s graves. They’ll be fighting in hell when the time comes, probably arguing over who has the rights to the brimstone.
Now I look forward to Wednesdays. Never thought I’d say that….