What inspired a spin off?

Discussion in 'Knots Landing' started by Herofan, Mar 24, 2019.

  1. Herofan

    Herofan Soap Chat Member

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    I always knew that Knots Landing was a spin-off of Dallas, but I recently discovered that it started in December 1979, and J.R. didn’t get shot until the spring of 1980. I had always assumed that the immense popularity of Dallas that followed the “Who Shot J.R.” plot was what spawned the idea for a spin-off, but apparently not. So, was Dallas already popular enough that producers thought viewers would go for a spin-off?
     
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  2. Daniel Avery

    Daniel Avery Super Moderator Staff Member

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    That is what I always assumed, that CBS was pleased enough with Dallas's following to ask David Jacobs to develop something else for them. The incredible reaction to JR being shot had to come from something, after all--if the show had not been very popular, I can't imagine so many people wanting to know how it turned out. Like the old saying: "If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?" If no one had been watching Dallas, there would not have been the calamity that his shooting caused. Of course a lot more people were lured into sampling the show once the fan base started loudly clamoring for answers.

    It's also worthy of note that the premise/concept of Knots Landing had been developed by David Jacobs first. CBS basically told him that his pitch for what would become Knots Landing was a step in the right direction, but that they wanted something centered more around a single family...so he dreamed up Dallas. So an argument could be made that KL was the kind of show he was more keen to write/produce, though Dallas was arguably the biggest hit of his career. Coasting on how happy he'd made CBS with Dallas, he got to produce the show he'd originally wanted to do.
     
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  3. Herofan

    Herofan Soap Chat Member

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    Thanks for the information. I didn’t know that.
     
  4. micmic

    micmic Soap Chat Active Member

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    It's actually a good point !
    Knots aired in December 1979, but the pilot was filmed earlier (early 1979 I believe?).
    And the Dallas mini-series, wasn't very successful.
    So it's kind of a short time between the actual first season of Dallas and the kl pilot.
     
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  5. Sarah

    Sarah Super Moderator Staff Member Original Member Since 1998

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    What??!

    No seriously.....what?

    Who on Earth told you that??
     
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2019
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  6. micmic

    micmic Soap Chat Active Member

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    Former VP in charge of market research at CBS...
    (Who handled the focus groups back then, and Dallas in particular)

    In fact, he said CBS was leaning toward not renewing it
     
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2019
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  7. Sarah

    Sarah Super Moderator Staff Member Original Member Since 1998

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    Haha, very good - bit of egg on his face then? :) God how misinformed was he?!
     
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2019
  8. micmic

    micmic Soap Chat Active Member

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    He said he actually convinced them to give it a chance and according to focus groups need to make JR and Bobby more extreme (JR be super bad and Bobby be super good).
    I think at that time he was just doing reseach and only later became SVP.
     
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  9. Sarah

    Sarah Super Moderator Staff Member Original Member Since 1998

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    Hee hee, he's trying to take the credit for the greatest show of all time :) That's really interesting information though thanks!
     
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2019
  10. Toni

    Toni Soap Chat Star

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    All people interviewed stated that the miniseries did quite well despite being aired with strong competitors in the other networks. That´s what convinced CBS to renew it into a full season, which improved the ratings though not as spectacularly as the next season´s run. The KL Pilot was filmed, if I remember well, in the spring of 1980 (before the infamous actors´ strike) but not aired until December of the same year.

    I´d say that Jacobs asked for a clause in his Dallas contract to be able to develop KL if Dallas reached a minimum of audience numbers (which it did), so in the middle of the second full year, Dallas spun off Knots in the episode Return Engagement, also aired in December, prior to the KL pilot airing. It was a slow process because I guess Jacobs and Filerman wanted the best possible cast...and they got it (save for those annoying Wardes!).
     
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2019
  11. micmic

    micmic Soap Chat Active Member

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    Knots aired in December 1979, and the pilot script I have is dated January 1979 if I recall correctly
     
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  12. Michael Torrance

    Michael Torrance Soap Chat Dream Maker

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    The Dallas miniseries overall did not do well in ratings as you can do a quick search (even in wikipedia) and see it had a #44 ranking. But people here have stated that the final episode actually shot in the top 10, so the network took notice. As @Daniel Avery noted, KL was the show Jacobs wanted to do, and he had early on cited Ingmar Bergman's Scenes from a Marriage mini-series as an inspiration.

    I think Knots Landing is the most even-keeled of the 80s prime time soaps, and one that merits binge watching on some platform. Sad that it is not offered.
     
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  13. micmic

    micmic Soap Chat Active Member

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    I was just checking Wikipedia and mini series was April.1978 then the season after (s2) started in December 1978, so time wise CBS could have requested for Knots during s2.
    If I remember correctly Gary and Val appeared on Dallas before Knots (as we know it) was scripted - am I correct on this ? (This is what I remember from things that were said on the block party & the paley sepcial)
     
  14. Daniel Avery

    Daniel Avery Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Plus, you have to keep in mind that David Jacobs (as a writer) and his producing partners had already developed a good reputation with previous projects. CBS may have realized early on that they were "the kind of people we can do business with" and took a leap of faith that they'd deliver good shows. He didn't have a huge resume but the stuff he'd done was quality.
     
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2019
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  15. Karin Schill

    Karin Schill Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Yes Val and Gary appeared on Dallas first. Actually the characters were introduced in episode 6, which was the first episode of the first season after the mini-series. According to IMDB it was broadcast in the USA on 23 september, 1978.

    I think Joan was approached about doing a spin-off (Knots Landing) early in 1979 but since the first Gary was unavailable when they would film the pilot they decided to recast the Gary character and Ted was of course cast as Gary.

    Season two of Dallas then premiered on 21 september, 1979. It was in this season that Gary and Val appeared again on Dallas and was then spun-off to Knots Landing.
     
  16. Mel O'Drama

    Mel O'Drama Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Another aspect that I'm not clear on regarding the filming of the Knots pilot:

    Years ago I read that David Ackroyd was unavailable for Knots as he was filming Little Women, but LW aired in October 1978 - just two days after his second Dallas episode aired and obviously many months before the Knots pilot would have been filmed. It's quite possible that the source I read was mistaken, but I'm still very curious about why he wasn't available.
     
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  17. micmic

    micmic Soap Chat Active Member

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    The three-hour miniseries was produced by Universal Television and originally aired in two parts on NBC on October 2–3, 1978. A brief series followed in 1979, airing from February 8-March 8, 1979.

    Also, it is possible that he was contractually unavailable (i.e. he would have had to be available to film the show, not meaning they necessarily did)

    Really sucks for him!
     
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  18. Daniel Avery

    Daniel Avery Super Moderator Staff Member

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    If the network didn't cancel it outright (it's "on hiatus"), then the actors have to sit around twittling their thumbs waiting to be released from their contracts, I guess.
     
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  19. Michael Torrance

    Michael Torrance Soap Chat Dream Maker

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    Well, it also sucks for those of us who liked his Gary more.
     
  20. micmic

    micmic Soap Chat Active Member

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    Yep. I'm so used to Ted that I didn't even think about it.
     

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