TNT Dallas - A Caricature Of The Original

Discussion in 'Dallas TNT' started by Kenny Coyote, Nov 14, 2018.

  1. Kenny Coyote

    Kenny Coyote Soap Chat TV Fanatic

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    I recently watched TNT Dallas again for the first time since it aired. I thought there were some interesting stories but I didn't like what they did with the original characters. They changed them and instead of being the complex, interesting characters they were in the original, they turned them into caricatures of those original characters.

    JR was one of the most iconic TV characters ever. He might have been the first TV character that had so many traits which were typically that of a villain, yet still had enough good qualities that he was a fan favorite, to the degree that Larry Hagman was the highest paid actor there had ever been on a TV series. He got paid that much because he was worth just that to the producers of the show. Larry Hagman knew how much the audience wanted to see JR and he could command the salary he did because he knew what he was worth. Why did the audience cheer a character who was so much like a villain in some ways? Part of it was his charisma and that you could tell he really enjoyed life. He was always smiling. His enemies all wasted their time talking constantly about JR. He didn't talk about them unless he had a specific plan involving one of them. The rest of the time he didn't talk about them because he was too busy having a good time.

    JR made some underhanded deals in business and he was a lousy husband but he also had some strong redeeming qualities - he was a good son and an excellent father. In TNT Dallas, they wanted us to believe he had not been a good father. That he was as much a failure at being a father as he was at being a husband. You can't tell an audience "this is how he really was - not the character you saw." It just doesn't work. They simplified the character and made him seem like he was just a bad guy with no redeeming qualities. The first time they ever spoke well about JR on TNT Dallas was at JR's funeral. After he died they suddenly remembered that he did have a good side to him. Did they really have to wait until he was dead?

    They showed John Ross as a bad son in TNT Dallas. They even said that the time we saw John Ross visit him in the nursing home was the only time he had ever come to visit his father. We know from watching Dallas that John Ross loved his dad and would have visited JR more. John Ross was a good son but they wanted to tell their own story - John Ross is a bad son who will screw over his father every chance he gets. Again, they're trying to tell the audience this is how John Ross really is - not who you saw.

    TNT even showed John Ross threaten his father. Nobody likes an ungrateful bastard. Nobody. Can you picture JR threatening Jock? Who would've watched? Nobody wants to see a family doing those kinds of things to each other. It's absolutely tasteless. "Tasteless" seems to be the common theme involving anything Cynthia Cidre is involved with.

    They had Bobby threaten to put both JR and John Ross in prison. Twice. That's something you never do to family. You just don't do it. Period. People who watched Dallas know that Bobby would never do that. They were turning these intelligent, complex characters we loved watching and turning them into caricatures. They just took their worst traits and amplified them. They took away the things that made them human and likable people. What good is a TV show if you don't care about what happens to anyone on it? There have to be at least a few characters the audience likes and cares about.

    Cliff is another example of just taking a character's worst traits and then amplifying them, trying to make the character as extreme as possible in a negative way. Can you picture Cliff ordering somebody to set off a bomb in the same place where his pregnant daughter was? Not a chance. It's another one of these extreme caricatures - just take the character's bad side, amplify it, and take away any redeeming qualities. The result is a character better suited for a cartoon than Dallas.
     
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2018
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  2. Lastkidpicked to be Santa's Helper

    Lastkidpicked to be Santa's Helper Soap Chat Well-Known Member

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    Part of the problem was that the storylines were simply not believable. There was no build up to the rivalry of John Ross and Christopher. We were just supposed to accept it with no reason why.

    Okay, so if the writers are going to set this up, then why not explore it? Knowing the original characters the way we do, wouldn't it be more believable that if John Ross was estranged from J.R. then he would have been much closer to his Uncle Bobby? Asking him for help and guidance? This would have made it even more poignant later on when John Ross turned against Bobby.
    This is something the original Bobby would never do. In NuDallas, Bobby is impotent when it comes to doing anything. "We need to let the police handle it. We need to wait for the results of the investigation." The original Bobby showed that you could be decent and honest, yet still get things accomplished.
    Once again, you hit the nail squarely on the head. Even J.R. never accused Cliff of being evil in their whole lives. He did love to say, (Picture J.R. walking out of Cliff's office, with that magnificent bastard smile): "Oh, Barnes. [chuckle] You get dumber every day!" But being dumb is not being evil.

    You said it better than I could, so I just left it there. Nice job.
     
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2018
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  3. Rove

    Rove Soap Chat Star

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    I think the major issue was the 20 year gap when Lorimar Dallas signed off in 1991 and its eventual return in 2012. When I first heard the New Brass were told to ignore the reunion movies I immediately had reservations but considering how bad Dallas: War of the Ewings was I could easily accept the need to reset the clock. What I couldn't accept was the final product.

    Yes. I understand things change in a 20 year period. How were my favourite family doing in 2012? Had the family settled their differences? Was JR still up to mischief as I expected him to be? Was Sue Ellen still the town drunk or had she finally secured her dream of being matriarch of Southfork. Did Bobby finally find peace or love? And how did those two boys; John Ross and Christopher turn out. Were either of them married and had children already?

    There was some glimmer of hope when I watched the first trailer. "All those fights, over Ewing Oil and Southfork. We laid waste to everything in our path JR...and for what," said Bobby as he visits a lonesome figure sitting in an armchair, gazing out the window. We witness THE name, emblazoned across the watchband...JR... which conjures up so many memories. Okay, I was hooked. The first official trailer should have stopped right there and then.....

    .....because everything after this was...well...crap.

    I didn't have too much of an issue with JR, Bobby and Sue Ellen. That was more to do with the story-telling. With new actors portraying John Ross and Christopher this also took some adjustment as I thought Omri Katz and Joshua Harris were just brilliant back in the day. But the biggest issue was Cliff Barnes. How on Earth could the new creators think this is what Cliff Barnes would be like in 2012? My Lord. The bloke was a monster. But there was nothing forthcoming why he was like this.

    What orchestrated this new vendetta by Cliff against the Ewings? JR was in a nursing home suffering depression...supposedly...since 1991 after his attempt at killing himself. Remember we have to accept TNT Dallas as a continuation from 1991. I could forgive the creators of TNT Dallas if they offered some background to Cliff's transformation. Did he have some debilitating illness? Why would his daughter become involved? Had she fallen for the same story her father had before with Digger Barnes...it's all the Ewings fault. Where was Afton in this mess? Afton may have been naive in the day but she soon wised up. Wasn't she keeping an eye on her daughter?

    Too many plot holes in this continuation and far too many of us Dallas historians to expect this to be a success.
     
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  4. Lastkidpicked to be Santa's Helper

    Lastkidpicked to be Santa's Helper Soap Chat Well-Known Member

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    For the first time, I will actually give some credit to Cidre and company. The first moments of TNT Dallas did a nice job of catching us up with the characters:

    J.R: While it was startling to see J.R. in a rest home, it was realistic. People get older and require care in retirement homes, even the Magnificent Bastard, J.R. And we hoped he had one more scheme in him, which he did.

    Bobby: We see him in the kitchen at Southfork. Looking relaxed and retired. Also, looking pretty good for an older guy. Again, this is what I would expect from Bobby.

    Christopher: Staying in the energy business, but moving on to alternative energies instead of oil. Which is exactly what we would expect from Bobby's son. And the line, "I'm no virgin, but I'm no whore either", making it clear that like Bobby, Christopher would be honest, but would not allow people to take advantage of his good nature.

    John Ross: Following in his father's footsteps in the oil business. Except that unlike J.R., we see John Ross out in the field getting dirty and covered in oil. So maybe we should say he followed his grandfather's footsteps. Jock would have been proud.

    One final touch that guys like me really appreciate: Bobby's truck. A new dually, with the exact same Southfork logo on the door as in the original series. I liked that.

    I agree. After doing a nice job of setting up the characters, they quickly devolved into caricatures of the originals, as Kenny Coyote says.
     
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2018
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  5. Michael Torrance

    Michael Torrance Soap Chat Enthusiast

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    In an interview Tippi Hedren said that in the last attic scene of The Birds, it made no sense for her character to go on her own to check out what was happening. She had already been terrorized by the birds. "Why would I go up there? What is my motivation?" she asked Hitchcock. And his response was "your director ordered you to do it." I imagine this is how Cidre excused any and all actions by all players, context and character history be damned.
     
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  6. Wintry North Poleson

    Wintry North Poleson SoapLand Battles Moderator

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    upload_2018-11-17_21-31-22.png
     
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  7. stevew

    stevew Soap Chat TV Fanatic

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    I would add even the original made JR a joke after a while, just a sad bad guy who lost. Dallas could have run another 10 years if they made JR live up to Jock, another complex bad guy and helped other characters grown and change. Instead the just played a joke on them all and TNT just continued it even more so.

    Hit the nail on the head - a few characters we like and care about.

    I found my fan fictions wanting to guest star and slap a few people around saying “what’s got into you?”

    Funny thing is if as people they had more depth they would have put it in their characters and could have used the same stories. Like: Cliff is mentally ill. So rich he can’t be helped or stopped. JR is dying. He sets Cliff up in Mexico to take the fall where where Carlos can handle him and lick him up. In the end. What looked like Cliff killing JR was JR saving Cliff. Now that would have got a response.

    I have to say it and it’s harsh, but CC put everything into Elena, someone she wanted to be a victim and came out fighting and people would cheer. But Elena was just as much a character with no redeeming characteristics unless you feel bad for stupidity and anger. Which if people did Cliff would have been the breakout character in the original, not JR.
     
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  8. Michael Torrance

    Michael Torrance Soap Chat Enthusiast

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    CC ruined most of the original characters but I found that, other through neglecting her or not wanting to reshape her, she let Sue Ellen shine.
     
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  9. stevew

    stevew Soap Chat TV Fanatic

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    I think I give more credit to Linda Gray for that.
     
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2018
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  10. Rove

    Rove Soap Chat Star

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    Linda illuminates the screen in her role as Sue Ellen. I would have used her services more...not less.
     
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  11. stevew

    stevew Soap Chat TV Fanatic

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    I agree. Larry and Sue Ellen should have been the Jock and Miss Ellie of the family if they had asked me - not exactly but the patriarch and matriarch idea. They had the acting chops. They would have anchored the show and even with Larry ill they could have worked around him with Sue Ellen taking care of him and heading up the family when he can’t - the character has the strength. Running Ewing Industries (like Koch Industries having taken Ewing Oil and a bunch of other companies, these were rich people after all) and the Ewing Foundation respectively. And the house as it was would be theirs. I’d have liked that.

    Then John Ross dating Pamela from the start (kind of a Bobby / Pam thing) and a younger sister, Ellie, explained as JR and Sue Ellen’s daughter after she left Dallas in the original (easy as they ignored the movies) married to Marvin Anderson, IV (Punk and Mavis’s grandson) and an even younger son, Aaron, a scandalous high school age playboy. Three “kids” filling up the house with turmoil. There was the formula.

    Uncle Bobby would be around running the ranch, the good guy. Christopher causing trouble, like a Barnes who’s also a Ewing would. And explain the absence of those we don’t see (esp. Ray, Donna, Margret, Lucy, Lucas, James, Cally’s son - talk about them for crying out loud).

    Just a thought - but the original formula of family worked so well and the two stars were so great - I’m left to wonder, why not use what they had? What a waste.
     
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  12. Rove

    Rove Soap Chat Star

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    And other characters I might add. Think, Ann Ewing (who I didn't mind), Emma, Harris, Judith, Carmen, Elena, Drew, Nicolas, Veronica/Marta Del Sol, Bum (one of the few new characters I liked), Frank, Tommy, Vicente, Heather, Bo, Candice...hell this list is getting long. Others on Soapchat are right. Cynthia used the brand Dallas to create her vision of what the series really should have been about; coke snorting grandmothers, Mexican cartels...the list is endless. Mind you I haven't listed all the new characters Cynthia created as opposed to what Dallas should have been about; The Ewing family.

    Now let's list them;

    JR
    Sue Ellen
    Bobby
    John Ross
    Christopher

    with special fleeting appearances by Lucy, Ray, Gary, Valene and Cally.

    Damn ordinary isn't it?
     
  13. Wintry North Poleson

    Wintry North Poleson SoapLand Battles Moderator

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    ZNZ Dallas? [​IMG]
     
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  14. Michael Torrance

    Michael Torrance Soap Chat Enthusiast

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    Cidre did not want to write for a soap, so she shouldn't have asked for the job and they shouldn't have given it to her. I would not have made a Dallas with just the Ewings--Ann and the rest of the Ryland clan would have been acceptable as an antagonist family, and it even would have been a nice homage to the original to have Bobby once again be caught between the two families. But Cidre did not care about family drama as much as drug cartels and trucks across the border and whatever idiocy her fog-covered little brain fantasized about as adventure.
     
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  15. Kenny Coyote

    Kenny Coyote Soap Chat TV Fanatic

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    I don't even think that was what Cidre thought Dallas should have been about. Having an idea of "what Dallas should have been about" would have suggest she both liked Dallas and knew what it was originally about. I don't have any evidence she ever liked original Dallas or that knew what the show was about. I'm sure she became acquainted with what the subject matter was, but as far as understanding what made the show work, I don't think she ever had a clue.

    If you don't understand how something works, you can't ever redo it.

    Cidre used the Dallas name for publicity, visibility, and a guarantee that she'd get a lot more people tuning into the debut of her "project" than otherwise would have.
     
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2018
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  16. Michael Torrance

    Michael Torrance Soap Chat Enthusiast

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    She didn't even understand the genre. And after destroying the name that created the genre, they gave her yet another show to destroy. I wish I had her power of persuasion with TV execs.
     
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  17. stevew

    stevew Soap Chat TV Fanatic

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    I agree with your point but I’d say there were other family’s she could have used like Harris Wendell and Elena Anderson and Ann neeLee.

    But what I meant was CC put all her hopes and dreams into Elena - she felt like her protagonist. And as you note, she’s not a Ewing so it was never going to feel like Dallas.
     
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  18. Michael Torrance

    Michael Torrance Soap Chat Enthusiast

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    I thought the way she tried to Svengali all of us into thinking there was a whole other family all these years on the ranch living intertwined with the Ewings was hilarious--and tragic at the same time.
     
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  19. stevew

    stevew Soap Chat TV Fanatic

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    Especially as all she had to do was say Carmen was Teresa’s sister or some such and it became a bit more believable.
     
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2018
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  20. Rove

    Rove Soap Chat Star

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    This has all the ingredients for a jaw dropping soap opera...oh wait...that's what TNT Dallas was :D
     

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