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Popular evening 'soap-opera' style television drama. The show was set in Dallas and chronicled the exploits of wealthy Texas oil millionaires. Many of the plots revolved around shady business dealings and dysfunctional family dynamics. Written by
Tad Dibbern <DIBBERN_D@a1.mscf.upenn.edu>
Dallas was and still is a TV phenomenon. It took the model of the tired old American soap and turned it into something fresh, fascinating and compelling watched by millions of people around the world. It used for the first time the device of the cliffhanger at the end of the season to keep people coming back for more. Personally I believe the 1981-1984 central seasons were its high point with the titanic struggle between JR and Bobby for control of Ewing Oil plus other strong story lines.
What was the secret of its success and longevity? I believe this is down to 3 factors.
1. The story lines cleverly combined subjects that would appeal to a mass audience - love and sex, glamour, money and power, family problems, and controversial subjects for the time e.g. Sue Ellen's alcoholism that attracted interest and raised awareness.
2. Excellent writing with top notch scripts.
3. Superb acting from the key cast team. I have to single out Larry Hagman's performance as JR, I have never seen any performance to match it in any TV drama. He completely got under JR's skin and while he showed us what a monster the man was, he also made us aware of his redeeming features (particularly his strong sense of family) so that we never quite lost empathy for him. Patrick Duffy, Linda Gray and Ken Kercheval also gave remarkable performances as Bobby the good brother who was never boring, Sue Ellen the wronged wife who eventually found a life of her own and Cliff, JR's neurotic, bungling rival who rarely managed to best him.
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