Dynasty vs Dallas

Discussion in 'Dynasty' started by Richard Channing, Dec 4, 2018.

  1. Richard Channing

    Richard Channing Soap Chat Star

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    I'm sure this has been discussed many times on the board over the years but I'm always curious about people's preferences when it comes to Dallas and Dynasty, why they like one more than the other, or as in my case, why they love both for different reasons. And I do love both for different reasons, but I often find it hard to put my finger on what those reasons are. What does one have that the other doesn't? What boxes does one tick that the other can't? What was it that was so addictive about each one? Each one certainly had fantastic characters and an excellent cast. I guess if I was to try to put it in a nutshell, even though this doesn't come close to really explaining it, Dallas plumbed emotional depths that Dynasty could never quite match, whereas Dynasty soared to heights of fabulosity that could never quite be matched by Dallas. I guess it depends what you're looking for and if you felt it was being delivered. Each one had a tantalizing premise and characters you couldn't help be invested in, but they didn't always do either of these components justice as time went on.

    So, I guess I'm starting this discussion to hear people's thoughts on either why you like one more than the other, what you like about both and how that's different, or why you've only ever watched one and not the other?

    I'm including an article from The New York Times last year in which two of it's journalists discuss their preferences for each soap to get the ball rolling.


    https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/12/arts/television/dynasty-dallas-reboot.html (the link itself also includes photos and videos)

    ‘Dynasty’ or ‘Dallas’? Squaring Off in the Lily Pond

    [​IMG]

    Along with “Cheers” and “The Cosby Show,” American television in the 1980s was dominated by two prime-time soaps: “Dallas” and “Dynasty.” For years they vied to beat each other in the ratings; more recently each has gotten the reboot treatment. But which show was the best? Who was the villain you loved more, J. R. or Alexis? Which had better cliffhangers, clothing, guest stars, even social relevance?

    The two of us — one from the Styles section of The New York Times, one from Culture — decided to put on our marabou stoles and cowboy boots and duke it out.

    ALEXANDRA JACOBS It’s a truth universally acknowledged that “Dallas” was a better-written show than “Dynasty,” but I would argue that “Dynasty” was a more captivating one — at least starting with Season 2, which is when I first tuned in clandestinely from my parents’ bedroom in New York. Even on their tiny black-and-white Panasonic with its broken antenna, I could tell this was going to be something colorful.

    That initial black-and-whiteness probably crystallized a central tenet of the show’s appeal: that its sumptuous interiors and arch repartee recalled old movies I’d loved, like “Holiday” with Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn. How could the twangy, homespun “Dallas” possibly compare?

    PATRICK HEALY You were secretly watching in New York; I was hiding out in our den in suburban Boston, because I wasn’t sure what my parents would think of me loving a soap opera.

    “Dallas” was more “Peyton Place” than “Holiday,” and the clothes weren’t as fine, but it did have an ingeniously original, amoral central character in J. R. Ewing (a shrewd performance by Larry Hagman) and a delicious mix of earnestness (Bobby and Pam Ewing) and bitchiness (Sue Ellen Ewing and Lucy Ewing).

    “Dallas” was twangy, but it also had broad appeal: It was a show about winning, and about people who wanted to be winners, and America needed that zest after the downbeat ’70s. As much as I enjoyed “Dynasty,” I never felt inspired to root for power-couple Blake and Krystle Carrington (John Forsythe and Linda Evans). I mean, did you really give a fig about Fallon?!

    JACOBS A fig stuffed with goat cheese and wrapped in prosciutto! As played by Pamela Sue Martin (familiar to me from a terrifying afternoon watching “The Poseidon Adventure”), Fallon was my favorite character on the show: intelligent, free-spirited and sexually liberated.

    Yes, she was a spoiled brat with an Elektra complex, but also a feminist who wasn’t about to let any man tell her how to live her life, a working mother who single-handedly turns around Blake’s hotel, La Mirage. The chemistry between her and the staid, dependable Jeff Colby (John James) was intoxicating to my preadolescent self.

    HEALY Fallon the working mother … hmmm … there are working mothers and then there are Carrington working mothers. And I’m not sure “feminist” is the first word I’d use for someone who was so demeaning and spiteful (at least at first) to other women.

    For me, Fallon represented a central flaw of “Dynasty.” The show was a portrait of wealth, glamour, conspicuous consumption and narcissism — nothing more, really. Everyone wanted Blake’s love and money, and to a lesser extent Cecil Colby’s. The sexual politics became increasingly problematic, too: While the men schemed and sabotaged, the women fought over men in lily ponds and apartments.

    “Dallas” felt richer for its focus on family and betrayal. (It was not above a pool fight, but those usually involved men.)

    Both shows did have great villains. How would you rate J. R. and Joan Collins’s Alexis?

    JACOBS No contest. J. R. felt irritatingly underplayed, with a rushed mumbling delivery. His predilection for the insults “slut,” “loser,” “drunk” and “saddle tramp” got old fast.

    HEALY Alexis called Krystle “you bitch!” a fair amount too. Those lines were juvenile, but I was juvenile, and they made me laugh.

    JACOBS And she managed to make “whore” a two-syllable word! Alexis was over the top but she was both always herself and constantly changing — and not just outfits. She rolled with whatever crazy story line the writers came up with (quite literally, in the case of the infamous mud-wrestling scene). And she always committed 100 percent, whether it was to singing a rendition of Frank Loesser’s “The Boys in the Back Room” à la Marlene Dietrich or falling off a balconywith Dex in the last season’s final episode.

    Which brings us to cliffhangers. Sashaying down memory lane with you made me realize how much the experience of watching television has changed, from once-a-week treat to isolated bingeing-and-tweeting. Who the heck shot J. R., anyway?

    HEALY J. R. took it in the chest from his mistress Kristin Shepard (Mary Crosby), Sue Ellen’s scheming sister. That guy was such a dirty dog, but he was also one of the first prime-time villains that viewers loved to hate. He was a forerunner to antiheroes like Tony Soprano, Walter White and Cersei Lannister.

    The “Who Shot J. R.?” season finale of “Dallas” was, for me, the greatest TV cliffhanger of all time. It came in March 1980; it wasn’t until November that Kristin was unmasked as the shooter. During the intervening months, everyone from President Carter to Vegas oddsmakers weighed in on J. R. The watercooler energy was enormous. While other television shows had fan followings, “Dallas” demonstrated that you could keep viewers in thrall for much of a year without any new episodes.

    “Dynasty” had its own cliffhangers. I’ll bet you a Dean & DeLuca coffee that we agree on the most memorable one.

    JACOBS Well, it has deeply uncomfortable resonance right now, but the Moldavian Massacre was the most memorable to me. That was truly scary: terrorists, shattering glass, bloodied bodies. Better make it a martini.

    HEALY Gruesome images — and then, cue the credits.

    JACOBS It took place during a royal wedding, with the bride, Amanda Carrington, played by real-life royalty, Catherine Oxenberg. Somehow the “Dy” in “Dynasty” was all bound up in my head with Princess Diana, and her own royal wedding to Prince Charles (never mind that the English pronounced it “Din-asty”). Obviously this was a time of conservatism and convention and backlash to the progressivism of the ’60s and ’70s.

    HEALY The depiction of so many women on “Dallas” as sexual objects and playthings definitely ran counter to progressivism. But “Dynasty” and “Dallas” could be topical, too.

    JACOBS “Dynasty” moved the national conversation forward on homosexuality. Steven Carrington is immediately introduced as being attracted to men, and despite tentativeness in how the show presented his orientation, one felt the creators were basically on his side — don’t you think? He was a likable and complex character, not a caricature.

    Then, of course, Rock Hudson’s death shortly after appearing on the show provoked national hysteria that he might have infected Linda Evans with H.I.V. by kissing her, which led to important education about how the disease is actually transmitted.

    It was dismissed for being superficial but was actually right on top of the issues! And it had a few African-American cast members, notably the great Diahann Carroll as the mega-glam Dominique Deveraux. Did “Dallas” have a single minority?

    HEALY “Dallas” was an extraordinarily white show. For a state as racially and ethnically diverse as Texas, the series really failed by reducing people of color to servants and waitresses.

    It did strive for some social relevancy, though, with its portrait of alcoholism. Sue Ellen struggled for years to get sober and stay sober: J. R. made serenity impossible, but it was really Sue Ellen’s battle with low self-esteem, betrayal, envy and self-loathing that proved painful to watch through her relapses — but ultimately pretty inspiring as she achieved stretches of sobriety.

    With the stabs at realism came the fantastical. I speak, of course, about the Mortal Sin of “Dallas” — the entire season of episodes that was retroactively labeled a “dream” of Pam’s to explain Bobby’s death and subsequent reappearance in her shower. What was the best twist of “Dynasty”?

    JACOBS I don’t recall anything as shocking as the gasp-inducing “scar” reveal by Marcia Cross on “Melrose Place,” but the return of regular-guy Matthew Blaisdel at the end of Season 7 was certainly unexpected. It was no surprise whatsoever to me, though, at that point, that he had elected to hold the Carrington family hostage.

    And speaking of “Melrose,” that brings us to the current reboot, which stars Grant Show as Blake. How do you think it will stack up against the “Dallas” one a few years ago?

    HEALY Watching the new “Dynasty,” I missed the old “Dynasty.” The new versions of both “Dynasty” and “Dallas” go young with their actors. But the “Dallas” reboot still had J. R., Sue Ellen and Bobby, and they were up to their old tricks and in fine form. If only Joan Collins wasreprising her role as Alexis in the “Dynasty” reboot, as a cougar to middle-aged Blake!

    JACOBS You keep dreaming, honey … just like Pam Ewing. And now I’ll flounce away, borrowing a line from the original Krystle:

    “If you want a rematch, just whistle … if you can!”
     
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2018
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  2. colbyco

    colbyco Soap Chat Active Member

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    Dynasty gave me everything I loved the moment I saw it. The show was in its sixth year when I had the pleasure to see it first.
    - the glamour, the dresses, the diamons, the cars, the airplanes
    - the sets: the mansion, Alexis´ penthouse, Colbyco, DC
    - a talented, beautiful cast
    - the bitch we love to hate
    - the "love that lives forever" - couple
    - cliffhangers, catfights and over the top drama

    I also like DALLAS. The oil baron´s ball and barbecue was a very good thing. It was better written, was better in business storylines and made more of its history, but it never had this impact to me like Dynasty. JR never had this special charm Alexis had and I never understood why all women wanted to sleep with him (especially beautiful Mandy). It only became glamourous because of Dynasty but it hadn´t this beautiful people to dress (with the exception of Pam and Mandy later). All this rich people living on this tiny ranch was very unbelieveable. Bobby & Pam were a lovely couple and I wanted them to be together but Blake and Krystle´s love was far more special. Dallas never had a real hunk until Sasha Mitchell came at the end of the 80´s. Dynasty was much more shocking (Cecil´s heart attack, Moldavia) and groundbreaking (catfights, gay son, first black bitch).
     
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  3. Michael Torrance

    Michael Torrance Soap Chat Enthusiast

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    When I started watching Dynasty in its first season, it was the best show I had seen to that point. The melancholy tone, the unique and never before seen characters (Fallon, Krystle, Claudia, Steven), the never before heard dialogue about Capitalism and the rich, on a US show no less. No episode of Dallas came even half the distance to the Dynasty pilot in every aspect, mansion and Bill Conti music included.

    Then in Dynasty's second season most of these vanished (save the mansion and the music) but now there was a frenetic pace and a tight arc which again were more engrossing than Dallas--if you weren't a Dallas fan, which I wasn't--but it could not be sustained. For a myriad reasons analyzed ad nauseam in other threads, pretty soon as Dynasty was rising in ratings against Dallas it was actually losing in quality against it, so that the more viewers were exposed to it the more inferior the product was.

    As I said, when Dallas was originally on, it was just taking place in a glorified shack called ranch for me, and the accents did not help, so I did not follow it. When I gave it a chance in the 90s, I enjoyed it very much--up until Donna Reed appears, it looked to be solid in terms of writing and to emphasize things (such as location) which sadly Dynasty had long stopped emphasizing. It was also a better structured show: the Dallas universe kept expanding, with new layers of the Barnes/Ewing feud and the new generations being born, while the Dynasty universe actually kept shrinking. But I haven't felt the need to watch it a second time in its entirety.

    Final impression: Dallas was my parents' soap. As such, it was the more respectable one, even if it looked more hillbilly to me in its first airing. Dynasty, especially in the later, schizophrenic years, was like a decadent chocolate. You knew you shouldn't have it, but you couldn't stop yourself.
     
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2018
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  4. Snarky's Ghost

    Snarky's Ghost Soap Chat Oracle

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    Both shows are better when they had a melancholy tone. Melancholy simply is reality, and both DALLAS and DYNASTY worked best when they were character-based and a bit tragic, like life itself.

    So my desires for each show were similar. The glamour thing and the bitchy barbs and the cat fights of DYNASTY were just fine when they occurred in an atmosphere of relative plausibility. Same thing for DALLAS.

    Yes, DYNASTY could get away with pop-culture references, twentieth century political gossip, an outward-looking jet-setting looseness, and artistic experimentation. While DALLAS needed to be a wee bit more structured, parochial and inward-looking.

    So their tones needn't be identical.

    We've discussed many times how and when both series fell short. Glitzy DYNASTY worked best when focused on a poetic Krystle and a sociopathic Alexis, the show haunted by its past. Rustic DALLAS worked best when JR seemed determined to lead his doomed family into Hell, the show haunted more by its present.

    But a strong plotline always helps any show stay on track. Without it, everything seems like a silly contrivance, more soap than opera.

    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2018
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  5. Michael Torrance

    Michael Torrance Soap Chat Enthusiast

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    That TV Guide cover is interesting, because in October 1983 Dynasty was still on track (it was about to go off the rails in 3-4 episodes) and there was the illusion that the story was really going to pick up with the merger of DC and Colbyco and Krystle not being married to Blake, plus the custody battle for Danny. Dallas meanwhile was having some really unusual storylines: Ray was arrested for pulling Mickey off life support, depressed John Ross was taken to a counselor and so Peter came into Sue Ellen's life, and J.R. loses the battle for Ewing oil after the audit. There was of course the usual misunderstandings between Pam and Bobby, which were as frequent as Blake and Krystle's estrangements--and then there was Clayton's proposal to Miss Ellie.
     
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  6. thomaswak

    thomaswak Soap Chat Fan

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    I will be forever a Dynasty fan. This show has my preference. But, from a story/plot standpoint, I think Dallas was a better show (till Pam's car accident)
    Yet, i'm way more fascinated by Dynasty.

    Dallas was more consistent during it's run season 2 to 10. Then it went down, and down.
    Dynasty had a great dark and realistic season 1, and an great season 9. But everything in between could be either excellent or cheesy.
     
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  7. Snarky's Ghost

    Snarky's Ghost Soap Chat Oracle

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    Well, I had been bitching about DYNASTY for a full year, while 1983 was DALLAS at its most creatively mature.
     
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  8. Michael Torrance

    Michael Torrance Soap Chat Enthusiast

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    Dynasty was consistent in season 1, and it went bipolar for the remaining of its run. Even solid seasons (2,3, 6B and 9 plot-wise) have their misfires. And the thing with bi-polars, is the lows are abysmal, and the highs are spectacular. So in almost any of the uneven Dynasty years, you have parts which are way more exciting than anything Dallas would on average produce.
     
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2019
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  9. thomaswak

    thomaswak Soap Chat Fan

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    And that's why Dynasty was fascinating. You could expect the best or the worst within a season. It was like a space mountain ride for me.
    It was over the top, and so campy sometimes. And absolute boredom could walk hand in hand with amazing moments.

    To me, Dallas felt more earth-grounded. Till the dream season revelation, which was one of the worst (if not THE worst) plot device on television.

    Anyway, Dynasty has all my loyalty. Then I love Knots Landing. Dallas is still in my top 3 classic nighttime soap anyway.
     
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  10. Michael Torrance

    Michael Torrance Soap Chat Enthusiast

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    I watched Dallas in a TNN rerun in the 90s, and while I appreciated its story, the dream season was it for me. Of course I knew it, but I wanted to see for myself what they had done in that year. I think watching Dynasty when it actually aired added to my fandom, whereas I could not watch Dallas in its original run. As I have mentioned in other threads, it was rather off putting.

    I think my only true disappointment in Dynasty was season 7B. There were other bad seasons (most of 4, 6A) but they were not boring--there was always something to keep my interest. But these episodes felt more like a chore than my actual high school homework at the time.

    I think you can't discuss Dallas without admitting that it was the reason any other night-time soap existed: it created (or updated) the genre. But Dynasty's season 1 perfected it.
     
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  11. Willie Oleson

    Willie Oleson SoapLand Battles Moderator

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    Purely based on theme and characters I'd choose Dynasty. Even as a child I had a taste for female villainy, it always seemed more dramatic or more fun - or both.
    Importance, grandeur and supposedly innocence make it even more interesting.
    I would expect a female prisoner to be hostile, but I find it more shocking and entertaining when a dowager or Southern belle in a big ballgown is plotting revenge or murder, or to hear her scream "You bitch!"

    [​IMG]

    It's not about camp, I didn't even know what camp was when I watched Dynasty during its original run.
    Harriet and Nellie Oleson were my first favourite TV villains and I guess I recognized that cattiness in Fallon, although it really was the Blaisdel family that piqued my interest in the show.

    But my interests have become more fluctuating and what I'm watching is what I like the most, so right now I'd say Dallas is my favourite classic soap.
    And I think I'm more interested in male oriented drama these days, especially when it's really good (New Dallas, Tyrant, Blood & Oil).

    upload_2019-4-19_22-14-15.png

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    But really, how can we choose?
     
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  12. Rove

    Rove Soap Chat Star

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    Dallas.jpg
    Dallas
    It's like your first love...who can forget it?​
     
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  13. Herofan

    Herofan Soap Chat Member

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    I have to admit, I didn’t watch Dynasty in its original run, but I’m currently on season three.
    So far, Dynasty just doesn’t hold my attention like Dallas did. Some have mentioned that Dallas seemed more hillbilly, and I believe someone described the house as a glorified hut.

    I’m sure it depends on what you like, but I think those are actually reasons why I liked Dallas better. I guess I’m not to the most glamorous seasons of Dynasty yet, but I understand what people mean even though I’m just on season three; however, that doesn’t really add any interest for me.

    I’m guessing that the Dallas producers wanted to show a rich family, but it was more about the story surrounding the riches, so I guess they weren’t trying to be the biggest and most glamorous. I don’t believe there was a similar show at the time, so there was nothing to beat or outdo in the rich category. I would also assume that when Dynasty was created as a rival, they wanted to go the rich route, so they went with bigger and more glamorous.
     
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  14. Grant Jennings

    Grant Jennings Soap Chat Well-Known Member

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    My heart belongs to "Dynasty" because of the characters: sweet, meek Krystle feeling overwhelmed and out of place in the huge mansion; troubled but very intelligent Claudia; spirited but stifled Fallon; misunderstood Steven. These were complicated people and I rooted for them. I knew Blake was a ruthless bastard but I desperately wanted to see him evolve into a better person thanks to Krystle. I wanted to see Blake and Steven resolve their differences. I even rooted for Adam.

    "Dallas" was more coherent and consistent but while it rarely sank as low as "Dynasty" did at its worst, it never soared as high. The Ewings were less complicated than the Carringtons; I saw them more in black & white than shades of grey. J.R. was a villain plain and simple and the love of a good woman would be wasted on him. Bobby (despite his tendency to punch first, ask questions later) and Pam were decent people and I liked them. I desperately wanted Bobby to see the light and break up with Jenna and get back with Pam. I wept like a baby when Bobby died. As much as I like Bobby and Pam they aren't as fascinating as the messed up characters on "Dynasty".

    "Dynasty" clearly had better production values, the scores with their use of leitmotif, the Nolan Miller wardrobe and the sets were head and shoulders above "Dallas". When "Dallas" did try to become more glamorous it felt out of place. Pam, Sue Ellen and Donna (especially Donna) often looked like they were playing dress up in their Travilla fashions. Ironically, it was Donna Reed's Miss Ellie who most appeared to be dressed in character (Reed's take on the character). The set redesign looked out of place inside the modest aluminum-sided ranch house and didn't look at all like Miss Ellie's (Barbara Bel Geddes version) taste. The doors open to nonexistent rooms only emphasized how hard they were trying to out-Dynasty "Dynasty".
     
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  15. colbyco

    colbyco Soap Chat Active Member

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    - I have the same feelings. Dynasty was better in dresses, sets and glamour. In some scenes the Ewing women looked out of character when the show tried to be Dynasty. I ruled for Bobby and Pam - his dead was painful. I wanted them to be together again and hated it when Mark and Katherine tried to separate them (but my feelings the show created speaks for a good storyline). JR was only a bas*ard - Alexis had more charme, style and beauty. The storylines on Dallas were better written but the characters that touched me lived in Denver.
     
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  16. Michael Torrance

    Michael Torrance Soap Chat Enthusiast

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    Dynasty's majestic opulence was part of the show's early story rather than just a desire to spend more: season 1 Dynasty was very much aware of social classes, and of Capitalism, and Krystle was shown as someone who had huge problems coming into that mansion and that social class, not simply clashes of personality with Fallon: even the servants thought she didn't belong. Dallas shows the Ewings as simple folk with more money than the rest, driving glorified wrecks, because it was perpetuating the usual American fog about social classes, that it is so easy to hop from one to another--or the even more favourite American myth, that there are none in the US.

    While Pam was criticized by J.R. and Sue Ellen, it was because she was considered white trash, a moralizing term working class people in the south use against other working class (or unemployed) people. Hence the connection with Ray in her past. Jock did not like her because she was Digger's daughter and Cliff's sister (that was also J.R.'s main concern). But the show did not treat her as belonging to a different social class from them.
     
    Last edited: May 3, 2019
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  17. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Mega Star

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    While the sheer sense of bigness of DYNASTY in its first season -- the size of the mansion, the scale of the business and emotional problems -- worked brilliantly, I really loved the pressure cooker feeling of DALLAS, especially in the year leading up to JR's shooting: all that dysfunction going on in such a small house, simmering and bubbling and finally boiling over, was just too exciting. It felt like the whole show was teetering on the edge of a cliff.
     
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  18. Michael Torrance

    Michael Torrance Soap Chat Enthusiast

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    For me the real center of tension in Dallas was located around Bobby, and his push-pull relationship with Miss Ellie and J.R.: On the one hand he did not want his mother to "lose" (in the weird world of Dallas, that meant "move out on his own as an adult") another son like she had "lost" Gary. On the other hand, he could not stand J.R. and the sight of him sickened him.
     
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  19. Willie Oleson

    Willie Oleson SoapLand Battles Moderator

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    Depends on what you consider production values. That fortune spent on wardrobes was at the expense of everything else.
     
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  20. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Mega Star

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    Interesting. This time of watching, it was Bobby’s relationship with his father that leapt out at me - the conflict between pleasing Jock and his own sense of morality/independence. It was a more combative relationship than I’d remembered.
     

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