Sunday, June 10, 2012

I shot JR : )

I was in high school when the prime time soap opera "Dallas" made its debut in 1978. I don't remember when I first started watching -- I don't think I watched right from the very start -- but certainly by midway through the second season, I was hooked.
I have fond memories of watching the infamous "Who Shot JR" episode that kicked off the fourth season in November 1980 -- one of the most-watched TV episodes of all time, and one of those "where were you when..." moments that everyone remembers. By then, I was in second-year university and living in a dorm. I had a small black & white TV set in my room, but one of the girls on my floor had that rarity (for a student in those days), a colour TV set, and was kind enough to set it up in the lounge area. Everyone packed in to watch the episode together, & we all cheered as Sue Ellen confronted her scheming sister (who also happened to be her husband's mistress), Kristin (as played by Bing Crosby's daughter!!) with the declaration, "It was YOU, Kristin, who shot JR!"

Like many people, I thought the show went downhill after the infamous scene in which "good" brother Bobby -- dead, buried and mourned for an entire season -- shows up in Pam's shower, revealing the entire preceding season to have been a dream. The convoluted plotlines seemed to be getting more and more ridiculous, and it got more and more difficult to keep track of all the various mistresses, girlfriends, subsequent husbands & wives, & illegitmate sons & daughters. (I recently looked up the show on Wikipedia, which contains a detailed list of characters, a convoluted family tree, & season-ending cliffhanger descriptions -- and oh my heck, what memories that brought back!!)

(And on an ALI note -- I'd forgotten how prominently ALI themes figured in several of the plotlines:  John Ross was born prematurely after a drunken Sue Ellen gets into a car accident. Pam had a miscarriage after she gets into an argument with JR and falls -- or gets pushed? -- from the barn loft.  She & Bobby adopted Christopher, the biological son of Kristin (but not, thank goodness, JR). And Pam got into the car accident that led to her exit from the show while returning from a visit to her doctor and finding out that she could have children after all.)(She was on her car phone with Bobby, telling him the good news, if I recall, when her car struck an oil tanker & went up in flames -- perhaps the earliest depiction on screen of the hazards of talking on a cellphone while driving?)

But I stuck it out to the bitter end -- which wound up with (what else?) a cliffhanger, in which JR, goaded on by a devilish apparation played by Joel Grey, raises a gun to his temple and we hear a shot, which brings Bobby running up the stairs of Southfork & gasping, "Oh my God!" Cue the closing music & credits.

But now, after 21 years -- it's back!!  Starting next Wednesday on TNT in the States and Bravo on Canada, the new series picks up some 20 years later, with JR, Bobby and Sue Ellen (who,rumour has it, is running for governor!!) joined by a new generation of Ewings -- JR & Sue Ellen's son, John Ross, Bobby's son Christopher, and others, battling it out anew for control of Ewing Oil and Southfork, the beloved family ranch.

I can't wait. : )

Were you a "Dallas" fan? Will you be watching? (And if you were in pre-school -- or not even born -- when the original was on -- I don't need to hear it, lol.)


  1. I'd heard of Dallas but never really watched it, until I was in Thailand as an exchange student. My Thai mother called me into their room one night - "Dallas" is on. THe whole family used to curl up and watch it. "Oh good," I thought, "I want to see what this is all about." And then realised, it was all dubbed in Thai!! JR etc in Thai were more incomprehensible than usual.

    I did watch it in later years - not sure I can bear to go back to it now though. I'll just feel too old!

  2. I can't wait! I'm setting my DVR today!!

    I was young so I wasn't allowed to watch Dallas--BUT I remember sneaking into my parents room (they had a TV we didn't) and seeing Sue Ellen in a drunk tank (during the dream season I believe). I later picked up Dallas when it was repeated on TNT and just couldn't wait to find out who short JR...adn now I have ALL the DVD series of it :)

  3. I wasn't a huge fan, but I was 10 in 1980 and my family watched enough of it so that I knew the basics. I didn't tune in specifically, but if it was on, I watched it.

    Until such time as a young, handsome Christopher Atkins (one of my earliest crushes and a total heartthrob back in the day!) began a recurring role on the show and I was hooked. So I remember the "Who Shot JR?" that went on that year. And I certainly remember (and recall dissing!) the "it was a dream" issue when Bobby returned and turned around in that shower scene.

    I'm not sure that I'll be tuning in regularly, but I'm curious enough to want to know what's up with the series now, 20 years later. It promises to be a lovely bit of fluff TV!

  4. Yep, I as hooked. Always a sucker for a good soap - and the villain has to be really good. Wish I had a PVR, I might have to miss it. on a side note, Patrick Duffy is a Buddhist! He came to visit our culture centre once years ago! Do you remember him as the merman or guy who lived in the water or something like that?

  5. @Gil: Yes -- didn't Chris A. he play Sue Ellen's much younger boy toy??

    @Deathstar: I didn't watch that other Patrick Duffy show but I do remember it -- what the heck was its name?? (Google to the rescue: "Man From Atlantis") We don't have a PVR either -- and since we had to get a digital box for our TV about a month ago, our VCR doesn't work. :p I hear the kickoff episode is two hours long, & it starts at 9 our time -- hoping I can stay awake...!

  6. I was a TOTAL Dallas fan. And Knots Landing too!

    I completely forgot that IF was in the storylines -- of course, none of that was on my radar back then.

    But if you're looking for drama, ya gotta have IF!

    I'm especially excited for the new Dallas because Bobby's new wife (well, the actress who plays her) is writing the foreword to my book. She's also spokeswoman for The American Fertility Association (Brenda Strong).

  7. @Lori LL -- I remembered that when I heard she was on the show! -- I also read somewhere she was on the very first episode, as Cliff Barnes's girlfriend/paramour. I love all these little connections...

    I don't remember my mother watching Dallas with me much, but she was a huge Knots Landing fan. I watched a few episodes of that here & there but it didn't interest me as much as Dallas. I guess you can only keep track of so many soap opera plots & characters, lol.

  8. Didn't watch it as a kid. :-D I know that mom had put it on the list of TV shows "Don't-bother-mom-when-she-watches-her-shows." But then again, I'm not much for television even as a kid- I can only think of two shows I must watch back then, for the Crosby show and 'V' (Visitors). For Dallas, I only remember J.R's white hat and all that fluffy hairstyles. LOL

  9. I was such a Dallas fan, but it was because my mother was a fan and she and her cousin would watch each week with each other over the phone. I just liked to be a part of it.

    I remember feeling so let down when Patrick Duffy turned around in the shower. I'm like, "you're kidding."

  10. Loved this post, even though I was never a fan or really watched the show. I was certainly aware of it though and think my mom may have watched it. But your description of it back then and anticipation of the new version coming up has certainly peaked my interest. I may have to check it out, especially since it will be on during the summer season when there isn't a lot to watch on TV. Thanks for sharing!

    Also, it is always interesting how shows like this incorporate ALI story lines. I noticed that recently when Bob and I were watching the first two seasons of Downton Abbey.