The I Think Archive

Ten things I thinkI think this week:

Sunday, February 6

10. I think that this is going the most difficult column I've ever done, because very frankly my heart is just not in it. I thought it had been made relatively clear over the last couple of weeks, but I've been getting some e-mail about it, so I will proclaim it for good: Dallas will not be shown on anybody's television for the foreseeable future. If you tune in to TNN at 11 AM tomorrow morning, I'm fairly certain that you will see Cagney and Lacey. I can't say for sure because TNN has made no definite indication of what they plan to do tomorrow. But on Tuesday it's virtually guaranteed that Sharon Gless will take over for Larry Hagman, unless the hand of the Lord reaches into the chest of the head of programming at TNN and removes the layer of coal surrounding his or her heart.
I sort of knew that it was inevitable that TNN was going to turn Dallas into a memory for the immediate future, but I was sort of hoping against hope, as I'm sure many of you were. I still hold out some faith that TNN will bring the show back in some form very soon, but we fans are really going to have to keep after them to do it. I'm also really hoping that they will continue the series from the point we're at now, rather than starting from the beginning. It would be really like TNN to do just that.
But for anyone who's interested, they will be airing the movies at some point - at least, they've said so. Apparently they've spent money on purchasing the right to air the movies, and that's all that matters. For some bizarre reason, they will reair 'The Early Years" on March 13th, if anyone missed it the last time.

9. I think that, with all due respect to people who have told me this in one form or other, I'm really disappointed when I hear things like that "I was just planning to watch the show until Season so-and-so", or "I just wanted to catch the early seasons again because I was too young to remember them." Folks, I'm giving you the straight goods here: that's that sort of attitude that got the show dropped. When TNN says that ratings were falling, I don't think they're lying. I'm sure that they're not giving us the whole truth and that's an easy cop-out answer, but I'm also sure that the numbers have dwindled steadily especially after the last series run ended. So have we reaped.

8a. I think that I'm still having trouble actually talking what happened on the show this week because it seems so pointless to do it. But here goes nothing.

8b. I think that I'm not going to cop out and use one of my ten items on that. This column deserves better. Okay, here's one. If anyone missed the Entertainment Tonight one-hour Dallas special, you'll find a transcript here. And for those who didn't miss it, here's something: I think that Linda Gray at 60 is a hell of a lot better looking than Victoria Principal at 50. Also better looking than Vicki: Charlene Tilton at 40, and Priscilla Presley at fiftysomething.

7. I think that Linda Gray finally had a good week on the set. It's about time. I commented last week about how terrible her depush was, but she really made up for it well. No wonder she was so typecast after she left the show - she's a fantastic drunk, that's for sure.

6. I think it's really interesting how, at cliffhanger time, JR suddenly becomes a really wise character who calls the action exactly as it is. Remember last season, how he said that Cliff's suicide attempt was purely the result of his own stupidity? He was right then. And this time, when he berates Pamela for making a new bed for herself with Mark Graison, he's dead on too. So many characters on this show like to blame JR for taking advantage of their weaknesses or exposing their faults. That's a lot like blaming bars for contributing to drunk driving deaths, or perhaps more appropriately like blaming tobacco companies for deaths relating to lung cancer. Memo to the Ewing family: if you let JR dominate your life, then guess what? JR dominates your life. It ain't rocket science.

5. I think that, speaking of drunk driving tragedies, I'll pass the token to AHN Matt.

> I have a problem with Sue Ellen's logic.  She doesn't think that Mickey's problems are her fault, at all.  In fact, she tells Clayton that she admits she shouldn't have been drinking, but it was JR's fault.  OK, but the reason why Mickey was in the car was because she was drinking.  So, it IS her fault. JR, Ray, and Bobby should get partial blame for the fact that Walt Driscoll was there, but Sue Ellen deserves full blame for Mickey being half-dead. He never would have gotten in that car if Sue Ellen was sober.

Matt gets me thinking about how boring this column would be if the characters didn't have such selective memories.

4a. I think that at this point in the series, if I were offered a deal, I would trade Pamela for Katherine straight-up. And I might even consider throwing in a second-round draft pick. It is truly amazing how much that Barnes woman's sheen has dimmed in my eyes over the course of a single season. My dream scenario for the rest of the series would have been this: Bobby sues Pam for custody of Christopher, gets it, and then decides to marry Katherine in the most gala affair Southfork has ever seen. Lonely and despondent, Pam seeks solace with Mark and they get married too, but Mark's business suffers because of the attention he is forced to give his super-needy wife. Eventually he is forced to go back to the office and work long hours to clean up the mess, and Pam's right back where she started. She deserves little better. I've called Pam selfish for several weeks now, but I have a more appropriate adjective: shameless.

4b. I think that, as a side note, I'd like to spill my guts about my one other current infatuation: the dark-haired girl wearing the blue sweater in the "Clean & Clear" commercial. Honey, if you're out there, send me some e-mail. NOW. [Hey, you never know.]

3. I think that a lot of people disagree with me about Katherine. Leslie Duffer sent me this:

> I completely disagree about Afton. First of all, she is apparently the only one perceptive enough to realize Katherine's true motives. If you ask me, Katherine is a backstabbing, witch. One should never go for sister's husband; that is a line you just don't cross. Sure Pam is a bit annoying right now, but she has done nothing but show kindness to Katherine. Therefore, she doesn't deserve Katherine doing this to her. She may not be so kind to Bobby, but that is another situation entirely. It is Pam's marriage, and no one should be meddling as Katherine is. Back to Afton - in the real world, women are quite perceptive when it comes to other women. She sees through Katherine. I think Cliff does too, but he doesn't care about Pam enough to do anything about it. He is only worried about himself! I see nothing wrong with Afton at this point of the show. I find her actions to be realistic and admirable. She cares about Pam more than Pam's own brother!! 

I don't disagree with the sentiment of what Leslie is saying, and none of the facts here are incorrect. My only point would be to say that Afton being right is neither here nor there. She is upset at Cliff because his actions have forced Pam to make a choice that is the nail in her marriage's coffin. But the fact that Pamela has spent the last three weeks putting the other two hundred and four nails in the coffin seems to be lost on both Afton and Pam. Is Afton saying that Pamela is a victim here? This is a most ridiculous non sequitur on her part. I'd like Afton to present any evidence whatsoever that Pamela has shown interest in keeping her marriage intact.
Yes, Katherine is subtly meddling in her sister's marriage and manipulating her. The way I see it is that Pamela has opened a door to her future without Bobby, and Katherine is simply holding the door open for her. She is not pushing Pam through; depending on how you see things, she may be nudging her a little bit. But Pam is not taking any steps back and if anything is reaching out her hand to Mark Graison, who is standing on the other side holding his hand out to grab her and pull her through.
Bottom line: at this point, I certainly don't think anyone would claim that Katherine does not, at the very least, really care about Bobby and wants to make him very happy. That is more than I can say for Pam.
If you don't believe this line of reasoning, here's something else to chew on. The one character who is most like Katherine in this series is Kristin Shepard. The circumstances of the JR/Sue Ellen/Kristin triangle were admittedly much more different than the Pam/Bobby/Katherine triangle, but there are lots of similarities. The foremost one that I can see is that the wife in the relationship makes absolutely no attempt to fix the real problem she has with her husband. Did anyone out there get self-indignant at seeing Sue Ellen's life nearly ruined by her sister? If so, I don't recall hearing about it. So why is everyone upset because Katherine is going after what she wants?

2. I think I have to make an apology out there to anyone who sent me e-mail in the last month or so that I didn't reply to. Rest assured that if I didn't, I certainly wanted to and just honestly could not find the time. TNN has arranged it so that I'll have a lot of time in the next little while. So please, if you think I ignored you, please don't. Just fire me a note and this time I'll be sure to respond. 

1. I think that I cannot hold off the inevitable any longer. I won't kid anybody: while I did have a family emergency this weekend [which is resolving itself as we speak, and thanks to everybody who sent words of support], I was very hesitant to do this final update because...well, because I'm really afraid that there is some sense of finality to it.
I know there's a lot of you out there, like me, who have made it a habit every night for the last one or two or three years to sit down every night for an hour and watch Dallas, whether it be live or off of a tape. It becomes part of your daily routine. It's a fix that you need. It's an escape from the world. It's a little thing that you can do every night for yourself, and not worry about everything else that's going on around you. There's always that little sense of anger in the back of your mind - how can they take this thing away from us? - which is tempered by the knowledge that this too shall pass.
And now we come to it...more specifically, come to it. I've kept this site going for a little more than two years. I've had some bad times with it but they pale in comparison to all of the fun that I've had. There were some nights when I would stare at my notebook screen almost with loathing, asking myself why I was wasting my time. And then I would get a brief e-mail from somebody, thanking me for all of the hard work I had done. And I found the will to carry on.
I don't mind telling you that there is a tear in my eye right now, and I am having trouble coming up with words for exactly what I want to say. Despite everything, my work on this site has been my rock for the last two years. So many things have changed. So many things have come and gone. People have come and gone. Opportunities have come and gone. Such is life. But no matter what else is going on, I have known this to be true: I can double click on that Frontpage icon on my desktop and make the terrible world go away for a while.

I am really going to miss that.

Now, that doesn't mean that this site is going to be shut down or anything like that; it, and the Photo Gallery will be there. If there is any news about anything Dallas-related, you'll find it here. I have the vast majority of episodes taped, and so I'll be updating the nitpick pages and the gallery every once a while. I'll still be here to answer questions or just chat about the show. No matter what happens, they can't take that away from me.
I hope that everyone will come back once in a while, to go over the nit pages for future episodes and catch a reminder of things you'd forgotten about. I'm always appreciative when people tell me they appreciate my combination of informative thoughts and humor. This has always been about having fun, as far as I've been concerned.
You know what I'll miss most? The people. It's a cliché, for certain, but it's true. I have really grown used to seeing a whole host of familiar names popping into my Nitpick inbox every night. I've sort of gotten used to the order in which messages arrive from people, if you can believe it.
I would like to thank every single person who sent me words of appreciation about the site, or anyone who sent in even a single nit, no matter how insignificant it may have seemed.
I would like to thank everybody who didn't send me any mail, but who visited the site regularly. I have treasured every single hit that has registered on that counter.
I want to thank every AHN that I've ever had, no matter how brief their tenure. Many of you stuck with me through very difficult times, especially that nonsense with the newsgroup and Eric Newman. I'll never forget that.
I want to give a special thank-you to some people who really deserve it. And this is no particular order:

- To Kyle Wasko. He's gotten very busy and I haven't heard from him in a while. I've always considered it a shame that we only live two hours apart from each other and yet have never met. He's been a great buddy and was my most ardent supporter during the Newman thing. Wherever you are, thanks, pal.

- To Todd Saveland. He was my first AHN and also got very busy doing other things. His submissions every night made me finally believe that I had a good thing going here.

- To Anne Pederson. For a long time it was just me and her, and she's such a sweetheart. Another shot in the arm when I really needed it.

- To Bill Withrow. It still amazes me how someone who is so perceptive isn't running Microsoft.

- To Jake Cote. For reminding me how nice it is to lose yourself in the fantasy of the drama.

- To Sara Morrison, Pam Steiner, and Alett Turner. It hasn't been a long time, but it's been a good time. I know you all hope we can start this thing up again really soon.

- To Mike Granieri. How close we came to making the full round, eh? Perhaps we'll still get the chance. Thanks for keeping me in the real world.

- To Valerie Martin. For so much more than what's on this site. In many ways she's the big sister I never had, and a light through great darkness on a personal level. Insert "The Golden Girls" theme here.

- And finally, to Jason Pendar, the wind beneath my wings. For never letting me accept less than the absolute best in everything I did here. For making me carry on when I really felt I couldn't. And for caring about things just as much [and usually more] than I did.

I hope I haven't made things sound too gloomy. Believe it or not, I really don't think it'll be very long at all before we'll see Dallas back on the air in some form or another. Let's all just keep the faith.

Sunday, January 30

10. I think I'm not sorry I skipped a week of the column. After hearing the almost-definite news about TNN bringing the airing to a grinding halt, I really was in no mood to do it. Things have changed a bit.
But I do want to clarify something. I think, in my haste, I might have misled people by the big "WE WIN" marquee on the main page. Let me make things perfectly clear about what has happened.
TNN normally posts information on its web site about what it is going to air over the next month or so, and I have found this information to be more or less accurate. Remember last week when Monday and Tuesday's episodes were switched? Well, on the web site, this had been laid out in detail: Episode 118 was posted as airing on Tuesday, and 119 was Monday.
A few weeks ago, TNN removed all references to Dallas beyond January 24th. There were no programs listed in Dallas's time slots at all. That situation continued until Thursday of last week, when finally TNN decided to update their schedule information and posted very clearly that "Cagney and Lacey" was going to start airing in the 11 AM time slot, beginning January the 31st, and "Matt Houston" would air at 11 PM.
Two days ago, that information changed yet again. TNN now says that while "Matt Houston" still takes the evening slot, "C&L" is pushed back to February the 7th. "Dallas" is pencilled in all of next week, and the 11 AM time slot on February the 6th is empty.
What does this mean? I don't know yet. We won't know until 11 AM Monday. TNN SAYS on their site that they will air Dallas. Your TV guide will probably tell you that Cagney and Lacey will air at that time. I, for one, will believe it when I see it. When I uproariously proclaimed that we had won, all I meant to say is that we had won the first round of this fight: we have made the network suits listen to us. They have heard our voices and acknowledged that there are a lot of Dallas fans out there. Otherwise they wouldn't have phoned down to the guy who does their HTML and asked him to change the information on their web site.
Now we'll have to see whether somebody in the ivory towers is going to wake up the guy who spends his one waking hour of the week putting tapes into whatever machine broadcasts signals into our homes and tell him to put the Cagney and Lacey tapes away for a while and replace them with Dallas. If this happens, and we see Dallas on Monday, then I am calling for another phone and e-mail campaign, as I outlined in this week's note. We must ingratiate ourselves and thank them for listening to us and reconsidering their decision. We must encourage them to continue at least until this series run is over. We must ask them to delay changing the 11 AM time slot over to Cagney and Lacey until Episode 356 is shown once again. That will be Round 2. I have a feeling that unlike Mike Tyson's latest duke-out, this will go longer than two rounds. 

9. I think that there's one other reason that I'm pumped about writing this column. Check your local listings: next Saturday, Entertainment Tonight will be doing a one-hour behind-the-scenes special on Dallas. [It's freakin' about time!] This is a must-see for everybody, and they may have information about the upcoming third movie.
I saw a sneak preview of it, which didn't say a whole lot. But one thing I found really hilarious. They had a snippet of Linda Gray talking about the first few seasons. She said that she complained to the producers that all she ever did was drink and have affairs and drink and have affairs. And the producers said, "Yeah, but you do it so well!" Stuff like this. It'll be great for a laugh. Oh, and for you Patrick Duffy fans out there: I'll warn you that age has not been kind to his hair.

8. I think it's time for me to actually talk about the show. But before I do, let me talk about talking about the show. I started doing this column a little over a year ago, during the Dream season. At that point, the show was still good [in my opinion], but there were little things that popped into my head that I wanted to share with people, and I also wanted to encourage people to participate in the site. I think I've accomplished both of those goals. But over the last year, I've found it increasingly difficult to come up with things to say about what's been happening on the show, especially recently. And I think I know why: because it's good.
The acting is good. The writing is good. The plot is good. What's not to like? It was really easy for me to do a column back in April, when JR and Bobby were the only good characters and most of the column consisted of rants about how boring and stupid everyone else was. Or how lame the strained plotlines had become. But now I don't have that much to pick apart.
I will say one thing though: if this were any other show, I don't think I've even be able to make five points in my column ever week. The one great thing about Dallas and well-written dramas like it is that you see something new every time you watch it. The first time around I watched it for the plot; the second time around I paid more attention to character development; and now I'm paying more attention to little nuances like symbolism, ways of establishing mood, and changing relationships. Dallas is sort of Olympic figure skating: even if you don't particularly like it, you can still watch it; and it has something that appeals to everybody.

7. I think that, now that it's over, I will declare definitively that I really didn't like the fact that Sue Ellen has been subtly depushed since her wedding. Clearly because Linda Gray must have had a fairly decent contract the producers couldn't ignore her; but she's been nothing more than JR's cheerleader for the last two weeks. I think I sort of understand what Linda must have meant when she spoke to the producers [Item #9]. It's almost like they really can't figure out what the heck to do with Sue Ellen except have her be a drunken adulteress. I almost thought they figured it out last season, but I guess not.

6. I think I just realized one other reason why getting ten points into a column has become so tough recently: there aren't really that many storylines going on. Everything's revolving around the battle for Ewing Oil in one way or the other. The only exception is the Krebbs clan subplot which has now involved Lucy, and I suppose there's also Ellie and Clayton getting involved with each other. But what in the world can I be expected to say about those things? The only thing that interests me about any of this right now is that Clayton is still a pretty cool character for not pulling any punches in his conversations with JR and Sue Ellen. I like the fact that his presence bothers JR, because it makes the show fun.

5. I think that one thing really bothers me about the business aspect of the battle. Obviously this whole thing can't get too intricate because the writers only have about twenty-five episodes to get this storyline out of the way; but this whole thing is way too simplistic for my liking.
Every episode, at least one Ewing brother has a really worried look on his face because "he's in real trouble" in the contest. Well...hold on a second, guys. Let's go back and examine what big deals you two have cooked up.

1. JR gets his oil variance, pumps to capacity, and opens up his cut-rate stations.
2. Bobby invests in the Canadian deal.
3. JR loses his variance, sells some stations, and then decides to ship oil to Cuba.
4. Bobby makes a big profit by forcing the cartel to buy him out of the Wellington deal.

That's it. That's all. Everything.
So what does this mean? It means that if Bobby is worried that he's losing the contest, then maybe he should start SELLING some freakin' oil! He's made ONE deal and he expects to win the contest?
And JR is worried? Bobby probably made about ten to twelve million on the Wellington deal. In a few months of operating his stations, he probably didn't make quite that much...but maybe he should start SELLING some freakin' oil! Is there no one in a non-embargoed country to whom he could sell oil for profit? Come on. This is just totally lame.
At least JR is trying. But I have seen no evidence that Bobby has even made an attempt to sell any of his oil to anybody. Jock must be turning over in his watery grave.

4. I think I have to thank AHN Mike for helping me figure something out. Here's what he had to say

> I know we agree about Mark Graison but yesterday's episode highlighted the fact that Pam is not discouraging him in the least. She should be telling him don't call, don't come, not playing this little flirty game and playing him slow. In a way, Pam's actions almost justify Katherine's try at Bobby.

I don't disagree with that last point, and certainly it takes two to tango. What disturbs me most about Mark is that the producers are doing their absolute utmost to make him a babyface this way. At least in Katherine's case, they make her a heel, which is as it should be.
This is what really bothers me about the Mark Graison character. He is using heel tactics. He's pretending to only be Pam's "friend". He is pretending to be amenable to seeing her back with Bobby, if that's what she wants. He has all of the signs of a heel character, but the writers are trying to make him a babyface. And there is absolutely nothing worse than having a babyface character shoved down your throat. It has the opposite effect. You tend to dislike the character. For those of you who are into wrestling, remember a few years ago when the WWF tried to make Rocky Maivia into a loved champion? The fans hated it, and by extension they started hating him. Then the WWF turned him into a heel and the fans couldn't get enough of him. He was the guy who everyone loved to hate. I remember going to Skydome a couple of years ago when the WWF came to town and the Rock had a short, aborted match. I went home grumbling because I didn't get to cheer "Rocky sucks." It was THE thing to do. Now that the proper foundation has been laid for his character, he's the most entertaining guy on the planet, even as the company's top face.
You can do that if you allow the crowd to accept the character for what he or she is. But you cannot MAKE them like a character. And that's what the producers are trying to do. They clearly can't have Pam fall in love with a heel; yet if Mark is going to steal her away from angelface Bobby, then it is unavoidable. With due respect to you Mark fans: you've been fished in. You've fallen for what the writers want from you, hook, line and sinker. The only way the writers could have this be less subtle is if they had him walk around with a halo. Mark's second tour of duty is much more in line with being a babyface because his actions speak much louder than words. 

3. I think that, as usual, I have so much to say about Pamela Ewing but am hesitant to get started because I'd like to get SOME sleep tonight. I'm worried that if I begin I won't be be able to end. One thing that really struck me was her conversation with Bobby in which she talked about how she had to live out her mother's dying legacy just as Bobby felt he had to live out Jock's. If you think about it, she's right: Rebecca has left behind a legacy of failure, unwillingness to face one's problems, and a desire for senseless revenge. Any good things she left behind were as a result of what her dead husband bequeathed to her. And I think Pam deserves a round of applause for wanting to continue that legacy. The only thing that puzzles me is why in the world Rebecca would think that Cliff will need any help in continuing to be a greedy, spiteful, wishy-washy jobber like she was. 

2a. I think that I hope I wasn't the only one who saw the death-knell of Bobby and Pam's marriage on Thursday, when she basically treated him like a two-bit male prostitute. It's such a shame that good-natured Bobby didn't just tell her not to let the doorknob hit her on the way out of Southfork six episodes ago, but rather had to take this circuitous route to learn what a mistake he made five years ago when he took that Barnes woman on a jaunt to New Orleans. Bobby reminds me of guys Too nice for their own damn good and too afraid to do anything about it. Finally Bobby seems to have learned that Pam is all about herself. This was never about choosing between Pam and Ewing Oil. It was about Pam being the center of Bobby's universe to the exclusion of everything else.

2b. I think that I just remembered one last thing about Pam. Here's an informal poll of the week: who sounds more retarded: "confused" Pamela, of this week and the next; or "confused" Sue Ellen, of the weeks before she married JR? I would have voted for Sue Ellen, hands down, but now I'm not so sure.

1. I think I almost don't want to talk about what's going to happen next week because I'm afraid I'll jinx it or something. Let's just keep our fingers crossed. I guess I'm fortunate because I have the next bunch of episodes taped, and they are really good. Tuesday and Thursday [the cliffhanger] are especially excellent. 

Saturday, January 15

10. I think I'm still really disappointed to report that I have no news about the fate of Dallas beyond this week. TNN has still left a whole lot of time slots open beginning the week of January 24th. I cannot believe that they are going to make this a last-minute decision, but they've done stupid things with Dallas before. If anyone has a way of contacting them, perhaps now would be the time. I have sent them e-mail which has typically gone ignored.

9. I think that, before I get into how I feel about the battle for Ewing Oil and all of its affected characters, I just want to say something for the record: Clayton Farlow is actually a pretty cool character right now. Many of you have chided be for ox-bashing in later seasons, but frankly it's deserved. Clayton is a midcard character: he's best when we don't see too much of him. That's not his fault; I would make the same case for Ray, Donna, Lucy, and a whole bunch of other characters from later seasons. They just don't fit in well to the main plots and when the spotlight is on them the storylines are weak because the producers haven't laid the proper foundations for their character development. As I have always maintained, it's not Clayton's fault he becomes an ox.

8. I think it's time for me to talk about last week's Poll Results. Comments from the voters are available on the Results page, and a slight majority actually believes that JR didn't expect Sue Ellen to do whatever it took to keep Gil happy. I find myself concurring. I simply cannot bring myself to imagine that JR expects to walk into his bride-to-be's place to see her thighs wrapped around another man and his face buried in her chest. Simply not reasonable in my mind. 
It brings me back to the beginnings of the series, when Sue Ellen would often bewail how little affection she got from JR in the bedroom. One of the key factors there was JR's madonna/whore complex. He had no problem sleeping with a call girl, but somehow it just isn't right to befoul one's own wife. This couple has come a long way beyond that, and they no longer need this angle because Sue Ellen has her own plotlines to follow. And of course, there's also John Ross to think about. Would JR really take a chance on turning Sue Ellen away after he's worked so hard to win her back? And potentially lose his son? I just can't see it happening.
The bottom line is that this plot device is ridiculously strained. Why doesn't Gil seek his own companionship if he's so hard up for it? Why doesn't JR assess the situation properly? Why does Sue Ellen let him off without so much as a slap on the wrist? Like most Friday episodes recently, this is just plain weird.

7. I think that, speaking of strained plot devices, I'm having a hard time dealing with why every single character is so shocked and amazed at JR's stunt this week. Just a brief recap for those who may have missed it: Jock's will says that whichever Ewing brother gets the most profit out of his half of the company within one year will get control of the whole thing. I'm no economist, but that sounds to me like Jock expects to see big short-term profits. Ideally, you like to get those without sacrificing long-term prospects, but you don't get omelettes without breaking eggs. And how does Ewing Oil make profits? Well, again, I'm no expert, but I think it has something to do with taking oil out of the ground and selling it to people.
So, by my layman's logic, the easiest way to maximize short-term profits is by taking a lot of oil of the ground and selling it for as high a price as you can get. The fact that it's a buyer's market makes things a bit more difficult, but that's neither here nor there. People are surprised that JR is selling gasoline so cheaply. Well, duh. He wants to win the contest. Pam is whining that he's just doing it to beat Bobby. Well, duh. He wants to win the contest. Bobby is upset at what it will do to the company's future. Well, duh. Donna is upset that JR is forcing the committee to get him back his variance. Well, duh. Ellie is upset that everyone else is upset. Well, duh. What exactly do people expect JR to do?

6. I think I think that the rest of this column is going to be a little more difficult. I have a lot to say, and I thought I could get six points out of it, but a lot of the points seem to be saying more or less the same thing. Oh, well, here goes.

5. I think I think that first, I want to remind everyone that there's a new poll of the week... and guess what it's about? Your chance, as always, to spill your guts about how you feel. 

4. I think that first, I want to talk a little bit about Ellie. I think that since most of us have seen the jellyfish Ellie of later seasons, she may be getting a bit of a bad rap. People are already thinking of her as weak and indecisive for what she's doing now. But remember, up till now, she's mostly been a really good no-nonsense character. We can't blame her at this point for the weakness she shows later on. I certainly don't have a problem with Ellie doing what she thinks is right in order to keep her family together; I just wish that instead of just sitting by and letting everyone argue, that she would actually DO something about it. 
What I dislike about Ellie's posturing is that three weeks ago, she was prepared to give Donna Krebbs the smackdown of a lifetime because she suggested that Jock MIGHT have done something underhanded in the name of business because she felt there was no way in hell he could ever do such a dastardly thing. And from this point forward she will give her dead husband zero credit for anything he accomplished in his life. She gets to spend the rest of her life in wealth and luxury on her beloved childhood ranch. I suppose she figures that happened because Jock was just lucky or blessed or something, instead of doing whatever it takes to solidify his family's future.
If she doesn't give a damn about Ewing Oil, and it's her right to feel that way, then there's a really simple solution: use a little bit of that 50 million that Jock left her and redo the ranch houses the way they were in the mini-series. Make a little house for JR and Sue Ellen. Make a little one for Pam and Bobby. Keep them as separate as possible. Tell them in no uncertain terms to keep business out of HER home until this nonsense is settled. Tell them they're expected to be in for dinner every night at seven o'clock sharp. Then she'll have her family, and there's no fuss, no muss.
Oh, and did anyone other than me notice that Ellie officially did receive her death-knell this week? That happened on Friday when Pamela told Bobby not to worry about Ellie because "she's a strong woman." Make a note: after this Monday, Ellie will become more of a wimp than any of her daughters-in-law.  
3. I think that, from the first time I saw Mark Graison standing at that outdoor restaurant table, I hated him. I honestly cannot see what Dallas fans like about this guy. Within a matter of seconds, he is mentally undressing a married woman and doesn't even the mock courtesy to be discreet about it. If he's all that, how come some woman hasn't gobbled him up already?

2. I think that, all of that said: he can have Pamela. Take her and don't bring her back. Every time she opens her mouth lately I find myself saying "shut up" to my television. Friday was the absolute last straw. Here's Ellie, reconsidering her decision to try and break Jock's will; there's Pamela, telling her otherwise. Who does this woman think she is? It reminds me of a few seasons from now when that Krebbs woman poisons Ellie's mind into unceremoniously yanking Jock's picture down from the Southfork livingroom just because Clayton feels uncomfortable about it. 
My biggest problem with Pam is that, however you feel about what she's doing at this moment, her selfishness knows no bounds. Pam would prefer that Bobby dump EVERYTHING. Never go into business. Never have any difficulties. Never have any fights. Well, sorry, Mrs. Ewing, but that's what life's about. It's about having troubles once in a while and dealing with them. And maybe trying to face challenges once in a while and overcome obstacles. I don't mind Pam questioning whether this battle for Ewing Oil is worth it, but you know that if Bobby agreed and said "Okay, honey, let's go away someplace," and then he wanted to start a business somewhere else she would STILL whine that he's not spending enough time with her and all that. The audacity of this woman to give her husband trivial lip service in the form of "You know I'm behind you no matter what" and the like is striking.

1. I think that I have little to say in advance about next week. I have all of these episodes taped, and I just finished reading the summaries to jog my memory, but it hasn't helped. The thing that strikes me is how many characters return to the show after a fairly long absence, and that's good, especially since one of them is Katherine. As you would expect, almost nothing happens that doesn't pertain to the current plots, so I'm not going to spoil anything for anybody. I hope I have some good news on Monday or Tuesday about what will happen the week after.

Sunday, January 9

10. I think I've just noticed something that could potentially be very disturbing. Because of all of the nonsensical scheduling that Dallas underwent in 1999, I find myself in the habit of checking the official TNN schedule grid every few days or so. Normally, there's nothing unusual to report - until this week. Suddenly, TNN has abruptly cut their "confirmed" schedule for Dallas at January 21st. Dallas's normal time slots thereafter are currently empty, as in "to be announced". Now, in fairness, it's not the only show for which that has happened. But the strong implication is that TNN is going to be monkeying around yet again with the schedule. I'm hoping they'll at least tell us before it happens, and I'm going to be checking yet again on Monday morning and you folks will know as soon as I know. I personally fear the worst, as always. I can't imagine that TNN will dump the show or anything, but we may see a cutback of some sort.

9. I think I've started a trend of sorts. Everybody seems to be submitting nits and comments using all the words that I pepper my comments with, such as "unflattering" and "egregious". Cool!

8. I think that it's really very interesting to see how the producers change premises in the off-season. Some changes are obviously necessary because nobody wants to see the same thing year after year, but it's kind of a shock when we see the show in its current form, i.e., day after day without a six month interval between seasons.
This year's most glaringly changed premise is Ellie's attitude towards Jock. It was last two Fridays ago [Episode 102] when we last saw Ellie bearing her "my husband was the greatest man ever" attitude. This Friday she has begun to question everything her husband ever did and thought. Whatever happened to "this is Jock's house, and the rules we live by are his rules"? Suddenly Jock's rules aren't good enough for her. Without giving too much away, this already shameless change of plans gets even worse when Ellie's mind gets further poisoned this week.

7. I think that the second most disturbing premise modification is the "Rebecca is formidable" thing. This week, as I mentioned last time around, her presence even seems to perturb JR. That stretches things way too much for my liking. With as checkered a past as Rebecca has, JR is unable to find some weakness in there? He's concerned about the whole oil world ganging up on him? I'd say he's been there before.

6. I think that I was wrong in saying that this was the season where the producers really opened up the purse strings. Certainly the wardrobe budget doesn't bear this out because way too many outfits are being recycled. Mostly they're nice outfits, but still.

5. I think that Friday's episode, like most recent Friday episodes, was kind of surreal. It seems like every five days the producers take a detour on us, split away from the main plot, and decide to have one of those "let's make a point" episodes. Two weeks ago it was Ellie coming to terms with Jock's life and death. Then last week we seemed to forget about the goings-on in Dallas, instead spending time in Kansas and San Angelo to introduce Mickey and get rid of Dusty. Now this week the whole Gil Thurman thing gets sprung upon us and everything seemed kind of topsy-turvy. I don't mind the odd horse-switching in mid-stream, but SOME mood continuity between adjacent episodes would be nice.

4. I think that I need to amend something I ranted about last year. I commented about how annoying Pam had become at this point by whining to everybody about how their goals were making it difficult for her to attain her selfish need to be the center of everyone's universe.
Now don't get me wrong: I still think that Pam is really a selfish whiner. But she actually impressed me earlier in the week when she stood up to Rebecca and told her mother that she was wrong to take on the Ewings again. I think that last year I was annoyed at this because her reasons were selfish: she's more concerned about her relationship with her mother and husband than the fact that Rebecca is being childish and stupid in backing Cliff again. This time around, I guess I'm just so repulsed at having Becky shoved down my throat that I'm willing to say that Pam's reasons are neither here nor there.
I was almost ready to forgive Pam until Friday's episode when she told Bobby she wanted to leave Dallas. Must be that "fighter" instinct kicking in, huh? I would have really wanted to give Pam the smackdown if Bobby hadn't done it so well by telling her that he has no intention of going anywhere. It's about time Bobby stopped jobbing to Pam and told that Barnes woman, in the immortal words of Mick Foley, to know her mouth and shut her role. I do stand by one comment I made last year: I said that Pam should shut up about the Barnes-Ewing feud and just look pretty, which it what she does best at this point in the series.

3. I think that if you don't want any spoilers about the way this whole battle for Ewing Oil is going to shake out, or if you don't want to know any specific details about what's going to happen next week, then you should skip ahead to Item number 2. 

Some people have already asked me for my thoughts regarding what exactly Jock wanted to achieve by staging this contest between his sons. It hasn't come to the forefront yet but it will this week when everyone, especially Ellie, will start asking themselves that very question.
It really amazed me when I went over this coming week's summaries to get a feel for what was ahead. For those who may not remember, everyone basically chooses up sides over this thing. JR and Bobby are determined for the contest to go on without any interference; Sue Ellen stands behind her husband; Ellie, as is to be expected, laments what's happening to her family and becomes more and more determined to stop the fight. Ray advises her to consider that Jock was wrong in letting it happen in the first place; Pam the constant pacifist encourages her to stop it; and amazingly enough, little Lucy is the only one to actually come out and give Jock enough credit to believe that he knew what he was doing. And I find myself saying this for the first time: Lucy is right.
Now, before I go too far with this, I'm going to remind everyone that when you're debating such things out loud or in your mind, it's important to first take a step back and a deep breath and remind yourself that this is just a TV show, and for us to speculate about character's motivations is irrelevant in a large sense because the characters only do what the writers want them to do. Bearing that in mind, I think you'll still agree with me that in another sense these characters are very real to us and we care about them and we almost feel like we know them.
Now that I've gotten that out of the way, here's my take on what Jock intended. Jock wanted his sons to work together to run Ewing Oil. Evenly. With respect for each other's abilities. Realizing that they need each other. He knows that in order to survive, Ewing Oil needs to be strong, and for that it needs JR's business smarts and drive to do whatever it takes to get ahead. It also needs Bobby's worldly awareness, sense of honor, and ability to keep things in check. But he knows his sons well enough to understand that they would never see it that way. 
If he gave each of them thirty-five percent of the company and instructed them to work together, it wouldn't last. JR would see himself as being slighted and would constantly scheme to get more control; Bobby would look at the numbers and believe himself to be JR's equal, with the consequence that he wouldn't work hard enough to keep himself at JR's level.
So what does he do? He makes them fight for it. Through the fight, no matter what happens, he hopes that his sons will see through his eyes and realize what he already has. That if they work together as hard as they work against each other, nobody's ever going to be able to bring them down. He hopes that JR will see that Bobby is just as passionate about the company as he is himself, and learn to consider him an asset and a friend rather than a liability and an enemy. He hopes that Bobby will see that while JR's methods are often despicable, you can't always afford to be the good guy when things are tough, and actions always speak louder than words.
In many ways, the relationship between these three reminds me of the triangle from Classic Star Trek of Kirk, Spock, and McCoy. Does anyone remember that episode where everyone thought that Kirk was trapped in another dimension and was most likely lost to them forever? Spock and McCoy viewed a tape that Kirk had made instructing them to work together because they complemented each other's weaknesses with strengths. Where Spock was more experienced in command and has an impeccable sense of logic, McCoy's humanity was lacking. While McCoy had great people skills, Spock was the one who knew what had to be done in a crisis. I'm sure that if Jock had been able to make a final tape for his sons, this is exactly the kind of thing he would have said to them.
And one last note: Jock's will gets an awful lot of bad press from the characters for causing all sorts of irreparable harm to people and relationships. Well, bear in mind that Jock never told JR to go and sleep with Holly Harwood, sending Sue Ellen into a drunken rage that causes all sorts of problems. Jock never told that stupid tramp Rebecca to finance her son's vendetta against the Ewings, resulting in her own death and the breakup of her daughter's marriage. He never told that no-good Mark Graison to...well, you get the idea. Bottom line: Jock did what needed to be done. End of discussion. Let's move on.

2. I think it's time for the real hot button topic of the week. What the heck is JR trying to do by having Sue Ellen "entertain" Gil Thurman? I've read arguments on both sides already, and I don't think I want to say too much right now because I'm turning this into a "Poll of the Week" question. [Remember the Poll of the Week? It's back!] Did JR really hope to find his bride-to-be grinding her pelvis against Gil's, or did he just really misread the situation. You tell me. 

1. I think that I'll reiterate what I said last week: THIS is the week that's going to be a lot of fun. JR and Sue Ellen get married, and Tuesday's episode gives us one of the best TV fights I've ever seen. Wednesday gives another always unpredictable barbecue, leading to all sorts of fireworks in the final two episodes. Make sure your VCRs are on battery backup.

Sunday, January 2

9. I think it's great to start to the new millenium without any of the expected trouble. And I'm even more glad to see that all of this site's necessary cyberspace is Y2K-compliant. If there are any hardcore millenium groupies out there, I'm sorry you're still here. But who knows? Maybe next year Armageddon will finally come.

8. I think that I want to know what the heck Victoria Principal did to herself during the off-season. Whatever it was, Vicki, SHARE IT WITH THE REST OF THE WOMEN. I can't really put my finger on what it is, but she looks better than ever. Even better than the beginning of Season 1. She's positively glowing.

7. I think that, speaking of people looking good, I was rather surprised by how decent Roseanna Christiansen, who plays Theresa, looks in this early season. With her hair loose, she's a rather attractive lady. I don't know who tells her to get those ridiculous styles done in later years.

6. I think that Friday's episode was boring as hell. Worthy of the final season, for all intents. Especially the first thirty-five minutes. Did we really need that much foundation laid in order to introduce us to Mickey Trotter and firmly get Dusty out of the Dallas landscape? I wish the writers paid as much at attention to plots that we actually cared about.

5. I think that I'll gives some time to Jason with some thoughts on the Lucy/Roger thing.

>We seem to agree that she must have gotten pregnant during their consensual romps before she was kidnapped.  Now this may be a really delicate matter but I noticed that Lucy's clothes during her kidnapping didn't look like they had been ripped at all.  She wore the same blouse and skirt/jacket combo for three episodes and they looked in pretty good shape. I have to wonder if Roger DID rape her.  I know he got violent with her when she tried to escape but I mean, wouldn't she have put up a fight or struggle a bit and the blouse at least have been torn or pulled out of shape?  I wonder if it is possible if she just "made up" the rape part to cover her liaison with Roger so she doesn't have to admit she had really bad judgment in choosing to concentually sleep with him in the first place.  I notice that she never told Pam or Muriel that she had slept with him before the rape. (Not that she necessarily would...) so I have to wonder if she, in her upset, fragile mind created the illusion of the rape to cover up her mistake of getting intimate with him to begin with.

I suppose that, if challenged about this, Lucy's most probable explanation would be that she didn't struggle because she didn't want to make a bad situation worse. Roger already had her kidnapped; probably tied up or locked up or both. He had probably hit her more than once. Then he wanted sex...well, there was no to avoid it. She didn't say no because she wanted her face in one piece. I'm not saying that's what happened - just that it's possible.

4. I think that this week's "they're shoving it down our throats" rant is one of the most disturbing so far. In past weeks, we've been subjected to all sorts of these things, which I've outlined as we've gone along. For those who don't remember what I mean, I'm talking about the ridiculous plot twists and dialogue which are designed to hoodwink us into believing the opposite of what we are seeing. You know...Pam's a fighter, Leslie Stewart's pretty, Jock was a saint. That kind of stuff.
So what bill of goods are we being sold this week? It hasn't fully materialized yet, and it may not be obvious. But the writers are trying to convince us that Rebecca Wentworth is a tough woman that you don't want to mess with. They had her lay the smackdown on Cliff; they brought her to Southfork to send shudders through Ellie which eventually cost JR the presidency of Ewing Oil; and over the next week she will even chill JR's bones, which is totally ridiculous. In my mind, Rebecca may be one of the most harmless characters I've ever seen on the show. She should be jobbing to everyone, not the other way around.

3a. I think that it's time to rant about Sue Ellen a bit. Here's something Bill Withrow sent to me:

> What was it with Sue Ellen at the hospital last night? She dumped Cliff for good reason. Take a hint and go home. Also, her arms-length attitude with J.R. is puzzling. I guess they are still engaged at this point. She does not really seem angry with J.R. for what he did to Cliff. Second thoughts on her part?

You know, it's interesting. We yell at Sue Ellen for being "confused", because it's so totally lame. But you know what? She IS confused. Her character is totally confused and indecisive about everything. My guess is that Sue Ellen is just concerned about her own feelings of guilt in the matter. Put it this way: if Cliff had NOT tried to kill himself - if he had just become a hopeless drunk like Digger or something like that - Sue Ellen would probably have never given him a second thought until about fifteen years later, when Pam would bring him to a Ewing barbecue and they would talk just like Ellie and Digger did at the 1978 Ewing barbecue. She's still a rather selfish woman. She doesn't care so much about Cliff as the fact that his suicide might be HER fault.

3b. I think that I'm not done. I was really glad to see Sue Ellen get the smackdown laid on her in Friday's episode by learning that her beloved Dusty was getting on with his life much better without her. In fairness, I will say that I found her psychoanalysis of Dusty to be quite astute, but such insight doesn't generally help you unless you internalize it and LEARN from it. Sue Ellen still wants to be the centre of attention in any relationship - you can see that she clearly responds to the lavish attention JR pours on her - but hasn't matured to the point where she realizes that it's a two-way street. All that money she gave Dr. Elby was a complete waste - so far.

2. I think it's time for my "deep thought" realization of the week. This week I've finally been able to put into words, as a smackdown to all the nay-sayers, that Jock Ewing really was and is the soul of Dallas. You know why? Because even though he's gone, he's STILL THERE. There cannot be any Dallas without Jock.
Here's the inescapable argument: take any character out of the show. Can the Dallas saga continue? The answer is yes. We were subjected to two seasons of Dallas without Sue Ellen. They weren't very good, but they happened, and she was barely mentioned. We had four seasons without Pam - her aura came back occasionally because she was the heart of the show, but the bulk of the action happened without her. We even had a season without Bobby, and though he came back, the producers were prepared to write him out of the scripts forever. Ellie disappears for weeks at a time and no one even notices.
But Ahmer, you say, what about good ol' JR? There can't be any Dallas without JR, right? Yes, quite right. But frankly, JR's character is shaped and driven by Jock. It's what defines everything that JR does. Take this aspect away from the show, and it's irrevocably damaged.
Let me put it another way: sure, you could kill Dallas by taking JR out of it. But you could just as easily kill the show by taking the Jock out of JR. And, curiously enough, that's what the producers did. They turned JR into a loser, and that was that.

1. I think that next week is going to be an awful lot of fun. And this time I mean it. Jock's will is finally read, and you know that's going to set a whole lotta things in motion. This next bunch of twenty-five episodes or so is perhaps the best month of the show we'll ever see, because absolutely everybody really gets involved in the main plot...well, except Lucy. While this week is good, the week that follows is even better.


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