Pam's Dream

Discussion in 'Dallas - The Original Series' started by Herofan, Mar 28, 2019.

  1. Michael Torrance

    Michael Torrance Soap Chat Enthusiast

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    If fans left in droves because Bobby left, why didn't they return when he came back with the idiotic dream solution? There wasn't even a minimal bump in the ratings--instead, there was further decline, even small. Either nobody cared that Bobby returned, or some did, but many more left in disgust and the net result was further decline rather than increase.

    The 1985-86 season was the season where audiences were drawn to another genre, the sitcom, and the Bill Cosby show became #1 with Family Ties at #2. Just a year before, Dynasty was #1 and Dallas was #2. That year, Dallas was #6 and Dynasty was #7. Of course the plots of the soaps in that year did not help, and creative decisions hurt the shows. Dallas's 85-86 season could have been a rejuvenation for the show, with Pam and J.R. fighting for Ewing Oil per Davis Jacobs' mini-series plan. While the show did have some interesting new stories, it also had some duds (Angelica Nero, Jack Ewing). Also, both super soaps stretched out to 31 episodes for whatever reasons the networks had.

    Dallas continued to decline in ratings and rankings. It went to #11 the year Bobby returned, and to #21 the year after (with a 15.2 rating). Whatever "Patrick Duffy and Larry Hagman Kool-Aid" the Dallas producers were drinking, the audience wasn't partaking. I do agree with you that for the short-term, legacy is not an issue that producers and networks care about. It is something fans care about, but not capitalists running companies. But I bet you the declining ratings bringing lower ad revenue in the following years did hurt them where they care.
     
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2019
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  2. Kenny Coyote

    Kenny Coyote Soap Chat TV Fanatic

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    A show with a continuing storyline week to week, as opposed to a show with stories which are resolved by the ned of an episode, require a commitment on the part of the viewer. They have to watch every week because the story keeps going; it doesn't end at the end of the episode. Once you lose a viewer from a show that requires them to watch every week to keep up with what's going on, you're not likely to get them back.

    Regardless of what the mentality is of the viewer, the results show that the revelation that the previous season was just a nightmare Pam had, only resulted in a loss of approximately 1% of their audience. When Bobby left they lost roughly 10% of their audience!

    The "it was all a dream" explanation, as dumb as it sounds, didn't turn out to be the series killer that some people think it was. It turns out that what caused fans to leave was when they lost integral members of the cast. That hurt more than any bad storyline hurt. Season 9 with it's 10% drop in the size of the audience when Patrick Duffy left isn't the only example. Patrick Duffy was one of the best liked characters of the show, especially among female viewers. I remember talking to my former girlfriend about Dallas and she had recently seen the end of season 8 and saw Bobby "die.". I asked her if she'd started watching season 9. She said "No, I'm still in mourning over Bobby. He was the only guy in the show I really liked." She found JR very interesting but didn't like him. She thought Bobby was a real nice guy. She never did watch any more Dallas. I don't know if she knows Bobby came back later on or not.

    Popular members of the cast leaving just killed the ratings for season 11 after the two hottest women on the show - Victoria Principal and Deborah Shelton both left. Here's what happened:

    10 29 September 26, 1986 May 15, 1987 #11 18.6
    11 30 September 25, 1987 May 13, 1988 #21 15.2

    That's a loss of 3.4 which is 17 times the loss Dallas sustained with the "it was all a dream" explanation at the start of season 10.
     
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2019
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  3. Rove

    Rove Soap Chat Star

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    I spoke about this in another post aeons ago. Of course it's easy for us Dallas fanatics to conjure up alternative theories with hindsight. I do however find it amusing most people - including the media - generally discuss two things when it comes to Dallas; Who Shot JR? and the Dream Season.

    As bad as the solution was in getting Bobby (Patrick) back onto the small screen it also set the benchmark in wild stories when it comes to resurrecting dead characters. I'm sure Leonard Katzman would be quite chuffed people and the media still talk about it...so in effect it kind of worked.
     
  4. Rove

    Rove Soap Chat Star

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    It's what I had hoped for when Dallas returned post Bobby's death.​



    And exactly what was delivered. Everything was as it should be. The rightful Miss Ellie had returned. Then we had the reading of Bobby's Will.


    In that final moment when Harv announced Pam was to control Christopher's share in Ewing Oil and both Pam and JR gave each other that look...well that gave me shivers. The mother of all battles was about to begin. Finally. Dallas was about to revisit its own history. A Barnes was going to be seated in the office of Ewing Oil. Come hell or high water (oil), blood was about to be spilt.

    But it all came to naught which was frustrating beyond belief because the story was right there in front of them. Instead we had Angelica Nero, a character worthy of Dynasty, Special Guest Star status.
     
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  5. Michael Torrance

    Michael Torrance Soap Chat Enthusiast

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    Yes, that is a weakness of continuous shows.
    Except--the dream resolution meant nobody had missed a single minute of the show. They could go back to where they left it. So, I'm still not buying it that viewers left because of Bobby and did not return, given how the show negated the previous season.


    Well, that is the problem when shows offer simplistic answers to their problems. Dallas did not suffer because of Bobby's death any more than Dynasty suffered because of a low body count after Moldavia. Both shows had new characters come in, like Angelica Nero and Jack Ewing, who was supposed to be a new Mr. Nice Guy but had nothing but his bulge to recommend him, or the Colbys on Dynasty who left and departed and then we were stuck with Rita, Joel, and Galen.

    The thing with Nero and Dallas' copying of Dynasty's style is that I don't believe any Dallas fan ever said "well, I like the Ewings, but I'll switch to the Carringtons because they have better gowns and foreigners." The show did need to stay fresh, but that happens with substance, not style. Bobby's death could have been the kind of needed shot in the arm the show got with Jock's death. In both cases, the show would never dare get rid of the character, but since circumstances beyond the control demanded it (the actor's death for Jock, the actor's insistence for Bobby) they could have made the most out of it. They did it in the first case, but blew it in the second.
     
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  6. Snarky's Ghost

    Snarky's Ghost Soap Chat Oracle

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    Exactly.
     
  7. Kenny Coyote

    Kenny Coyote Soap Chat TV Fanatic

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    I know someone who did just that. She never watched Dallas again after that and she can't be the only one.

    Season 9 had 10% less viewers than season 8 and you don't think losing arguably the best liked star on the show had a lot to do with that drop?

    People don't like it when characters they like leave a show. Victoria and Deborah left after season 10 and ratings fell from 18.8 to 154. That makes the drop from 18.8in season 9 to 18.6 in season 10 when the audience found out season 9 was just a dream look pretty good in comparison.

    Losing one of the most popular stars of a show isn't what I'd call a shot in the arm. Jock's death was unique in that it set up the contest for Ewing Oil - one of the best liked storylines in Dallas history. Still, the show suffered a significant drop in ratings from season 4 (Jock's last season and the highest rated season in Dallas ever) to season 5

    4 23 November 7, 1980 May 1, 1981 #1 27.6
    5 26 October 9, 1981 April 9, 1982 #1 23.2

    A drop of 4,4 points doesn't indicate the other viewers saw it as a shot in the arm either. 4.4 is higher than the total ratings of a lot of today's shows!

    Pam may as well have been dead since the viewers never saw her again.. Should that have been another shot in the arm that Dallas mishandled as well?

    I think the lesson to be learned from the ratings here is that significant portions of the audience leave when the characters they like leave the show!
     
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2019
  8. Michael Torrance

    Michael Torrance Soap Chat Enthusiast

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    Well, if you had not cut the quote mid-sentence maybe you would not miss the point. So my point was

    Of course the show lost fans when Bobby left. But it also lost fans with the dream idiocy. The numbers seem like the loss was only minimal, but when "the best liked star on the show" returned, fans returned too. Yet the numbers did not grow because of the others who departed. Numbers alone can't tell a whole story--that is why in polling they check who moved from where to where between parties for instance, even if a party has similar numbers in consecutive polls.

    Since you mentioned the contest for Ewing oil as one of the best liked storylines in the show's history, what were the all-time favorites during the 80-81 year? Most fans actually state it was rather sub-par compared to what came before or after.

    I have spoken about this recently on another thread. The 80-81 season was the hyped season with all the publicity after the famous "who shot J.R." cliffhanger and the mega coverage it got across all media at the time. People watched the show for its water-cooler effect. After all, Jim Davies was also around for the 79-80 season, with a 19.1 rating and a #6 ranking. How come he wasn't pulling that audience then?
    The show lost 16% of its audience that first post-hype year (which is also after Jock's portrayer was gone) and also went from a 23.2 to 20.5 the following year losing 11% of its audience. What do you think caused the drop there? The show stabilizing to its core, post-hype audience or, following--your theory on ratings loss= characters loss-- losing Mitch Cooper?
     
  9. Rove

    Rove Soap Chat Star

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    I was one of them Kenny. I always liked Bobby from the get go. But his death should have been cause for the writers to bring out the big guns. I'd imagine most viewers were itching to see the return season because;

    1. Most heard that Barbara Bel Geddes was returning.
    2. How was JR going to react to his brothers death?
    3. "All that wasted time. We should have been married." Who was Bobby speaking to? Pam or Jenna?
    Post Bobby's death should have been the battle to end them all...the Ewing family versus the Barnes family. To hell with everything and anyone who got caught in the crosshairs. Victoria was already leaving. Why not send Dallas off into the sunset with the Ewing family decimated and Pam, with Christopher, drives out of Dallas along the highway in Bobby's car.

    Car.jpg
    It would have been spectacular...it could have been beautiful.​
     
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2019
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  10. Rove

    Rove Soap Chat Star

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    And this was something I believe Dallas always had, substance. I suspect many viewers enjoyed the escapism that Dynasty offered with its high camp, furs, diamonds and pearls. Others though enjoyed Dallas because of its dust and cow dung. One series could be relied on for realism, the other for its outrageousness - and there was nothing wrong with that. Why couldn't Dallas and Dynasty coexist? There was room for both? But like a good episode of Game of Thrones both were tussling for the Throne, only to destroy each other in the process. And guess what? Who out maneuvered both Dallas and Dynasty in the end? Freakin' Knots Landing! I say that with all due respect to its legion of fans :)
     
  11. Kenny Coyote

    Kenny Coyote Soap Chat TV Fanatic

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    Decimate the Ewing family? For what reason? Why give the series a bad ending? I hate bad endings. I didn't like Conundrum. The audience wouldn't want to see their favorite TV family decimated.

    I agree with you about not bringing Patrick Duffy back. I wouldn't have brought Bobby back either. It killed their credibility. I would have thought the dream season would have hurt the ratings more than it did. As it was it still surprisingly pulled an 18.6. Shows would like to be getting that rating now wouldn't they? That big audience is exactly why they wouldn't "send Dallas off into the sunset" at that time. There was still way too much money to be made. There would have been a lot more too if they hadn't changed JR from a winner into a loser. That was just bizarre! That contributed to a rapid decline in what had been still a good sized audience. When JR was doing well Dallas was doing well. He was to Dallas what in sports you'd call the franchise player. As goes the franchise so goes the organization.

    I wouldn't have had Bobby leave control of Christopher's share if Ewing Oil to Pam either because the battle for Ewing Oil is what broke up their marriage. As Pam said she didn't have the stomach for it. Having to go to work with JR every day is the last thing Pam would have wanted to do. It's cruel to put Pam in a situation she'd hate. Her attitude was, and this is a quote: "How much money do we have to have"? That's one way of thinking I suppose, but it's a horrible mindset for a woman who would be one of two people running a multi billion dollar oil company. If Pam didn't want to make as much money as she could, she couldn't be helping run Ewing Oil. She'd be a liability. Besides she had no expertise. She's not remotely qualified for the job. Competitors would run roughshod over her any chance they got. Cliff couldn't help her. He had his own company so that's a conflict of interest. Same with Mark Graison. I'm sure Ewing Oil's competitors would have loved to "help run Ewing Oil.' They'd help run it alright. Run it into the ground! That's why any judge would rule it a conflict of interest.

    If they'd kept Bobby dead I see Pam out for vengeance against Katherine, just as JR would be. It puts Pam and JR on the same side interestingly enough. Christopher is a Ewing too. Pam couldn't very well go to war against her son's last remaining relatives. Imagine their conversations when Christopher got older. "Your sister killed my daddy so you reacted by going to war against my daddy's family"?
     
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2019
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  12. Chris2

    Chris2 Soap Chat Active Member

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    Dallas actually lost its smallest amount of audience from dream season to post-dream season than it had in years. The drops between DVD seasons 7 and 8, and 8 and 9 were much greater. And in the latter half of the dream season, “Dallas” was no longer ranking in the top 10; it was the show’s strong performance in the early part of the dream season that allowed it to wind up as #6 for the year. When Patrick first returned, the show popped back up in the top 10 regularly again.

    Patrick’s return didn’t reverse the ratings loss. That would have been unusual for a 10-year-old show. But it stemmed the ratings loss, at least temporarily. When Victoria left, the ratings plummeted.
     
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  13. Rove

    Rove Soap Chat Star

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    Because you never know if Dallas would one day return. I've always said that once Patrick had announced he was leaving and indications were Victoria was looking at her exit then the top brass could have called timeout on Dallas. Let's allow the show to pause. It's difficult for any series to remain at the top its game without displaying signs of burnout. Of course this wasn't going to happen as CBS and Lorimar saw the series for what it was, a cash cow. If I had Adrianna's abilities (Dynasty) and could see where Dallas was heading I would have been happy if the top brass pulled the pin post Bobby's death rather than bear witness to what it became.

    Would the viewers shed a tear televisions first family was leaving us? Of course. But I've always had the attitude of protecting your investment. While the argument people were still enjoying series like Dallas and Dynasty there is no escaping the fact the market for the super soaps was diminishing, thanks in part to ever more outlandish plots. There is a fine line the writers and producers have to walk with what viewers will or won't accept. Dynasty - more than any other soap - was pushing the boundaries. It hurt itself with the Moldavian Massacre resolution. Dallas did it later with the Dream Season resolution.

    Happy endings can work for some genres - think sitcoms. If...and that is a big if...the top brass were prepared to rest a series like Dallas then who is to say it couldn't returned as a regular series or perhaps a 25 episode series once every odd year. To continue the story of the Ewing family....
     
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  14. Rove

    Rove Soap Chat Star

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    Just one minor problem. Katherine is dead.
     
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  15. Kenny Coyote

    Kenny Coyote Soap Chat TV Fanatic

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    That's an excellent point. I didn't watch Dynasty but what you said certainly applies Dallas.. It was more or less around the time of Jock's death that they started getting a little more outlandish, which for a while was still on the side of that fine line where viewers would accept it... Then they kept pushing it further and further. I sometimes wonder what Jock's reaction would have been to JR hiring B.D.Calhoun to blow up oil wells in Suadi Arabia or JR getting himself committed to an insane asylum just to get to be able to vote with shares of stock that he didn't own and therefore could be taken away at any time (and were). "You jackass" comes to mind. Or how about the storyline where Jack was told he was the bastard son of Dimitri Marinos and that's why he looked so much like him. How about the Haleyville storyline? Had any of those storylines been suggested in the early days I can't imagine they would have even been considered. I'd love to see what Jim Davis's reaction would have been to the proposal of one of those storylines circa 1980, back when Dallas was vigilant about protecting its credibility. The lengths they went to to protect the identity of the person who tried to murder JR show how seriously they took the show back then.
     
  16. Seaviewer

    Seaviewer Soap Chat Dream Maker

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    It's sometimes a little hard to keep track of all those alternate timelines. It would make a sci-fi show proud.
     
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  17. Grant Jennings

    Grant Jennings Soap Chat Well-Known Member

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    Every Friday night my Mom, Dad and I would gather in front of the TV and watch "Dallas". Then Bobby stepped out of the shower and told Pam "none of that happened" and all three of us groaned. We watched the rest of that episode but we didn't watch another episode after that. We felt like this was a slap in the face to viewers. Among my objections:

    1) 31 hour long episodes were Pam's dream. Ridiculous. I will accept plot twists that strain credulity (especially if they are on a show that is already over the top) but telling me I wasted 31 hours of my life is an insult. It's also lazy storytelling. I would have accepted almost any other resolution than this.

    2) One of the things about soaps that appeals to me is the fact that more can happen than on a regular series. On a typical drama you can count on the same characters having the same relationships and being in similar predicaments week after week after week. It eventually hit me that the "Dallas" writers had no desire to shake things up - the more things changed, the more they stayed the same. J.R. would forever battle Bobby. Sue Ellen would always return to J.R. J.R. would never pay the price for his dirty dealings. The Ewings would always live together under one (much too small) roof.

    Pam repeatedly made empty threats to go after J.R. with both barrels - but she never did. The writers should have pursued this after Bobby died, it was a natural progression for both characters. Instead we got Angelica Nero.

    3) The episode that ended with Bobby's death was brilliant. It was an epic tragedy. It felt like a logical outcome for the characters of Bobby and Pam. I cried my eyes out during this episode. Yet, the producers thought nothing of completely disregarding this and going back to the status quo.

    I later learned that Bobby and Pam remarried and Pam gave up her mansion to move back to Southfork. J.R. continued to treat Sue Ellen like dirt and cheat at business. Was "Dallas" really a soap opera or was it a standard drama masquerading as a soap?
     
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  18. Chris2

    Chris2 Soap Chat Active Member

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    Yep - I always felt that the dream season was a HUGELY missed opportunity to reinvent the show. Look how “Knots” reinvented itself multiple times during that show’s run. But “Dallas” mishandled it (why Pam wasn’t left as Bobby’s widow at Southfork was beyond me) and then went back to the old format when Patrick came back. That worked for a year, and then it was clear the show was running out of gas.

    I would have set up Sue Ellen as an Alexis Colby type: J.R.’s vengeful ex-wife who becomes his business rival. And then the show becomes about J.R. and Pam’s uneasy alliance while they battle outsiders, including Sue Ellen. And Pam searches for new love (please, not Mark) as a B plot.
     
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2019
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  19. Michael Torrance

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    I think the only realistic long-term solution to satisfy fans who wanted nothing to change was to continue the show with the "it was all a cartoon" resolution. Pam goes to the shower and an anvil falls on cartoon Bobby, but cartoon Pam laughs her heart out. That way, just as in Tom and Jerry Tom chases Jerry every episode and nothing ever comes of it, Cliff would always threaten J.R., J.R. would always cheat on Sue Ellen, Sue Ellen would always go on and off the wagon and away and back to J.R., Pam and Bobby would split up and come together, and J.R. would always manage to pull the wool over everyone in Dallas even though they had witnessed him play dirty tricks time and again. Because in a cartoon, the universe is reset every episode. Plus the actors could do the voices and have more time to pursue other projects (isn't that why Duffy left)?
     
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  20. Willie Oleson

    Willie Oleson SoapLand Battles Moderator

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    And look how popular Dallas is when things do change.
     
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