D is for “Dallas”

Finally, a TV show that is not a sitcom. “Dallas” was the first of the so-called American prime time television soap operas. It aired on CBS from April 2, 1978, to May 3, 1991.The series revolved around an affluent and feuding Texas family, the Ewings, who owned the independent oil company, Ewing Oil, and the cattle-ranching land of Southfork. The series originally focused on the marriage of Bobby Ewing (Patrick Duffy) and Pamela Barnes (Victoria Principal), whose families were sworn enemies with each other. As the series progressed, Bobby’s older brother, oil tycoon J.R. Ewing (Larry Hagman), became the show’s breakout character. His schemes and dirty business became the show’s trademark. When the show ended on May 3, 1991, J.R. was the only character to have appeared in every episode.

Other main characters in the ensemble cast included Barbara Bel Geddes as Ewing matriarch, Miss Ellie, whose family were the original owners of Southfork; Jim Davis as her husband, Jock, the founder of Ewing Oil and head of the Ewing family, Linda Gray as J.R.’s long-suffering, alcoholic wife Sue Ellen, Steve Kanaly as ranch hand Ray Krebbs, Pam’s ex, who would eventually turn out to be Jock’s illegitimate son, and Ken Kercheval as Pam’s brother Cliff Barnes, J.R.’s archrival.

The show initially borrowed a familiar premise from Romeo and Juliet — young lovers from feuding families — for one of its key plotlines: the marriage and subsequent drama between J.R.’s youngest brother, Bobby and Pamela Barnes, the sister of rival oil tycoon and J.R.’s chief nemesis, Cliff Barnes.

“Dallas,” with its tales of wealth and power, scheming intrigue, and dramatic feuds, quickly became an international favorite, and the exploits of the Ewing clan and their assorted relatives, allies, and enemies were eventually broadcast in more than 130 countries. Amid the never-ending saga of secret affairs, backstabbing, gunfights, car accidents, and various dramatic twists and turns, Dallas became best known for its cliff-hangers at the end of each season, especially the “Who Shot J.R.” episode at the end of the third season, which ended with J.R. lying on the floor of his office, felled by an unknown attacker. After a summer of frenzied speculation during which the phrase “Who shot J.R.?” entered the lexicon of American pop culture, the identity of the assailant was revealed in the fourth episode of the fourth season, which became the highest-rated single broadcast in American television history at the time.

And yes, I admit that I watched this prime time soap opera.

Previous BATZAP 2021 posts: A B C

38 thoughts on “D is for “Dallas”

  1. newepicauthor April 5, 2021 / 6:29 am

    I never really watched Dallas, but I caught every episode of Dynasty.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Fandango April 5, 2021 / 8:45 am

      I watched Dallas, but never watched Dynasty.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Paula Light April 5, 2021 / 7:22 am

    My mom and I began watching Dallas because of the “Who shot JR?” hype. We became addicted! But unlike now, when you binge a show in a frenzy, it became our weekly routine that we looked forward to…

    Liked by 1 person

  3. eschudel April 5, 2021 / 10:17 am

    And who can forget the big hair? Although I guess that was more a Dynasty thing…along with the big shoulders…

    Liked by 1 person

  4. msjadeli April 5, 2021 / 11:42 am

    I got into Dallas bigtime when it was on. Can’t remember if I watched until it went off the air or not. It set the bar for this kind of lavish wicked series.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Melanie B Cee April 5, 2021 / 12:29 pm

    I saw every episode of “Dallas”, I’d schedule my life around it. I was agog to find out ‘who shot J.R.” and I thought Bobby was drop-dead sexy. It’s a bit strange that I had such a fascination with the show because it’s not the sort of plot I even like very much, I never enjoyed reading Harold Robbins or others like him who did huge sagas of uber-wealthy and allegedly ‘beautiful’ people. But consistency was never my watchword, and variety is the spice of life.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Fandango April 5, 2021 / 2:15 pm

      One whole season of the show was Bobby Ewing’s dream. 🙄

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Marleen April 5, 2021 / 7:20 pm

    I didn’t watch Dynasty or Dallas… except maybe one episode of Dynasty and a few (five or so) of Dallas. I’m watching something worse now, though. (I think it’s worse, but how would I know?) It’s this thing where, in the first or second episode, the mother is talking about “family” and how everyone should show up just so — being demanding about what is proper and expected. And I (as if speaking through the television to the character) say, “It’s a c-a-s-ii-n-o-o.” I thought maybe I’d be shown I should rethink my impression or judgment. But, no. It’s called Who Killed Sara?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Fandango April 5, 2021 / 10:09 pm

      I’ve heard of it but haven’t watched it.


      • Marleen April 8, 2021 / 7:48 am

        One drawback is that it was filmed in a different language, so the lips don’t match the words. But they didn’t do a bad job of coming up with translation work so that the lips aren’t terrible.


  7. J-Dub April 5, 2021 / 7:40 pm

    Oh my! I can hear the theme song. Yea haw. Lol

    Liked by 1 person

  8. leigha66 April 8, 2021 / 5:47 pm

    Never got into the nighttime soaps, I guess because I couldn’t relate to the lifestyle of those rich families. That and mom got me hooked on the daytime ones, ha, ha!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Fandango April 8, 2021 / 10:22 pm

      I have never in my whole, long life, seen a daytime soap opera.

      Liked by 1 person

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