Sunday, June 10, 2012

Returning to Dallas...

Oil...solar energy...fuel costs...solar panels...going green...politics...no, I'm not referring to any number of topics easily found on talk radio or cable news outlets. I'm referring to a familiar fictional family from Texas. For this is the week that Dallas marks it's return as a television series. Yes...the worldwide mega-hit from the 1980's featuring the Ewing clan has become updated but producers say it isn't a reboot. Too many programs that make returns 20-30 years after their debuts always seem to be rebooted and it's history wiped in the process so it'll be something of a refreshment to know the program remains basically the same...although with, based upon the show's early descriptions, a decidedly progressively liberal slant than the original.

It's debut happens June 13, 2012 on the cable channel, TNT

It will be interesting to see if the show plays out as I feel it should...as a clash between brothers, cousins, in-laws, exes, and everything in between (like a traditional soap opera) or if it'll write the green energy characters as the "good guys" and write the characters who favor oil drilling and conventional energy methods as being the "bad guys". I certainly hope it doesn't become a show like that.

The original series, which ran 13 years, 1978-1991, was must-see TV on Friday nights on CBS for millions of people. The Friday night line-up on CBS is something that I'll always remember because it was considered pizza night in our house. The Dukes of Hazzard got things started followed by The Incredible Hulk. Dallas aired at 9pm followed by Falcon Crest at 10pm. Even though it was a Friday night our parents never let us watch television past 9pm (until we got older) but I'd hear the Dallas theme song while attempting to go to sleep. I watched most of the original run of Dallas when it was brought back in the early 2000's on The Nashville Network and so I'm somewhat familiar with the basic premise and characters although I couldn't tell you much about any specific story line.

The portrayal of Texas businessmen and politicians had long been a source of exaggeration in all forms of entertainment. In the 1940's Kenny Delmar portrayed a southern Senator named Beauregard Claghorn on the Fred Allen radio program. In the cartoons, Mel Blanc was the voice of Foghorn Leghorn, based on the Senator Claghorn character. By the time Dallas was hitting it's stride in 1979/1980 the image of oil tycoons from Texas were all the rage. A daytime soap opera named, Texas, debuted in the early '80s and ran a couple of years. The Urban Cowboy movie starring John Travolta became huge...spawning copy-cat films and television series utilizing Texas and cowboy-based characters. Country music singers began wearing more and more cowboy hats and boots...more than ever before...rock and pop radio stations switched to country music programming in the late '70s through the mid '80s...and well-established soap operas, Guiding Light in particular, introduced an oil rich family from Oklahoma into their storyline, The Lewis family (Josh, Trish, Billy, and H.B.). In 1981 Dynasty came along...about an Oil rich family in Colorado. That series was hugely popular, too, and it managed to knock Dallas out of #1 during the 1984-1985 season. Dynasty was ranked in the Top-10 for 4 seasons: 1982-1983, 1983-1984, 1984-1985, and 1985-1986: #5, #3, #1, and #7 for Seasons 3, 4, 5, and 6 respectively.  

By mid decade the larger-than-life escapades of these programs was being toned down somewhat although there was still plenty of back-stabbing, scheming, and drama to keep audiences enthralled.

Dallas was the #1 television show three separate times during it's 13 year run. It was #1 back-to-back during the 1980-1981 and 1981-1982 seasons. It returned to #1 during the 1983-1984 season. It's first appearance in the Top-10 was a #6 finish during 1979-1980. It ranked #2 during the 1982-1983 and 1984-1985 seasons. It ranked #6 during 1985-1986, it's final season in the Top-10. The following season, 1986-1987, it finished at #11 and ratings fell more dramatically as the '80s ended and the '90s began.

Dallas premiers June 13, 2012 on TNT.

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