Monday, April 02, 2012

Happy birthday, 'Dallas'!


On this date in 1978, viewers were introduced to a man they'd soon love to hate.

I speak, of course, of John Ross "J.R." Ewing Jr.

I grew up with "Dallas." It later became a Friday night ritual at our house. We'd watch it just after "The Dukes of Hazzard" on CBS. Though I have to be honest and tell you that, back then, I'd often fall asleep about halfway into it. Hey, 9:30 was late to a young 'un.

My dad couldn't believe it when I called and told him the show is 34. And he pointed something out that I found to be true when I began to watch "Dallas" later in syndication and, still later, on DVD.

"You know, when Jim Davis died, it really wasn't the same."

And he's right. Daddy Jock was the only one who could reel J.R. in. Plus, Jim Davis had such a presence. I know he never tried to do so, but Howard Keel's Clayton Farlow just couldn't fill Jock Ewing's shoes.

Bo Pierce made a comment on Facebook that I've often thought myself.

"Loved the way J.R. used to say, 'Daddy.'"

It always made me giggle. In fact, when I watched the pilot late last night (well, early this morning) to say happy birthday to "Dallas," I laughed out loud when Larry Hagman picked up the phone in one scene and said, in that terrific timbre, "Hello, daddy."

"Dallas" was and is a guilty pleasure, mindless fun, one of those things you love and can't really explain why. We all have a "Dallas" and you know what yours is; this overblown Texas tale is mine.

I usually pull out the DVDs whenever I have a kidney stone (which is more often than I'd like). Watching J.R. in action takes my discomfort away better than any painkiller ever could.

During its original run, we stopped watching "Dallas" after the infamous "dream season," although, looking back on it, the season that followed it (1986-87) was pretty darn good.

And, sadly, soon after that the oil wells of "Dallas" began to run dry. Its last episode was a disappointment, not as bad as some, but certainly not what "Dallas" deserved.

TNT is airing a new version of the show this summer. Yeah, I'm going to tune in, at least at first. I can't believe Larry Hagman is 80.

And, even on a picture perfect spring afternoon like this one, I can't believe both "Dallas" and I have reached our mid-30s.

Where the heck does time go?

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