" Warning ahead! - - - - - After seven seasons was Dallas about to jump the shark?"
As Dallas entered this season not only did JR have to accept that he had to share Ewing oil with Bobby but also had to come to terms with the marriage of his mother to Clayton Farlow who he hated. It was all a bitter pill to swallow considering all the trouble he had gone in trying to break them up. In addition to that despite going to great lengths and putting together a carefully orchestrated scheme to finally ruin arch rival Cliff Barnes the plan backfired when Barnes-Wentworth struck it big in the gulf and now made them a major player in the Dallas/Texas oil business. Yet it wasn't a complete waste of time for JR, he was successful in breaking up Bobby and Pam's marriage although the devious and conniving Katherine did provide a helping hand.
The previous seasons finale left Bobby slumping out of JR's office chair after a mysterious intruder took a pot shot at him. It wasn't clear who did it or if they were after JR or Bobby. Be that as it may JR had plenty of reason to be worried after what he did to Edgar Randolf, Vaughn Leelan and especially after double crossing Katherine Wentworth. The good news was that after some temporary blindness Bobby made a complete recovery.
Why this episode deserves special mention is because after four great years and despite good ratings as Dallas entered it's 8th season it finally hit a fork in the road because from here on Dallas started to lose it's edge. It wasn't just competition from the other networks glam-soaps, although it might have some effect, perhaps Dallas became a victim of the high standards that it had set for itself in the previous seasons. It just simply all began to take it's toll, basically how long can you keep it up? Although the major stories in season 8 were OK, the problem was using Donna Reed as the new miss Elie. Although it was understandable that there needed to be a matriarchal figure to keep the character balance, to introduce a new actress to take the part after seven seasons was just asking too much. It just didn't look right!
Also, Patrick Duffy had made it clear that he intended to leave the series at the end of this season and it wasn't clear to the viewer if they were just going to replace him or write Bobby out of the series? With an arrival of a new Elie, a new Bobby was probably out of the question! Also, Lucy left at the end of this season too so with the death of Jock Ewing a few seasons earlier the original Ewing family began to look pretty thin on the ground. This was all made worse by the fact that many of the remaining original characters began to look stale too. They seemed unable to develop Sue Ellen's character any further from being a sex-starved neglected wife and recovering alcoholic and Pam wasn't fairing any better either! She always seemed out of sorts and despite running a large oil company just seemed helpless most of the time. All in all the series began to look tired during season 8!
Well after so many years where else do you go? The involvement of Jenna's first husband added a nice twist and the arrival of cousins Jack and Jamie Ewing added a new dimension too. Jack (Dack Rambo)was being primed to fill in as the series hunk as Patrick Duffy had all ready made it clear he wanted to leave the series after this season. Although I thought that Jack was a likable character he seemed to be too light-weight and was often left just hovering or wondering around, he had no real presence. Ironically a better character to fill that void would have been Marc Singer who played Matt Cantrell in the dream season. His physical presence and hot headed temper as well as his knowledge of the oil business might have suited the show better as Jack Ewing. He could have filled the role of soap beefcake as well as being the family enforcer over JR, a role that Bobby had done.
In addition it's worth mentioning that because of the dream season in season 9 many of the characters and stories from season 8 (1984-85)were left hanging over well into series 10 the (1986-87), so to some extent Dallas seemed to tread water for three next three seasons. Everybody else has got there own views but for what it's worth I think that Dallas was about to embark on a couple of dodgy seasons and to many it never really recovered!
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