The I Think Archive

Ten things I thinkI think this week:

Saturday, August 28

8. I think that this week I'll have to cut back to eight things because other than Thursday, this was a really slow set of episodes. I'm glad we're past them.

7. I think I want to know where the heck everybody is. I guess this is a prime week for vacations before September begins and everyone gets busy. For the latter part of the week, it's just been Jason, Matt, and myself. I'm sure more than a few AHNs are settling back into college or university duties - but do me a favor and check in with me, guys.

6. I think that it's time to shut up about my problems. On to the show. First of all: I don't like Colleen Camp as Kristin. She's fine from the neck down, and she does bear a bit of a resemblance to Sue Ellen...but she's totally lame. Frankly, I don't consider her to be pretty and that tooth gap in the middle of her mouth seals it. I can't wait to see Mary Crosby in a couple of weeks.

5. I think that, speaking of a couple of weeks, I just want to remind anyone who missed the Marquee line on the main page: yes, there will be an episode of Dallas airing this Friday, and every Friday until TNN decides to yank it again. But there will be no late airing: you'll see it at 11 AM and 2 PM Eastern/Pacific, but not at 11 PM. For more details, check the schedule.

4. I think that Thursday's episode was a remarkably great episode considering that half the cast was depushed. It really illustrated how Linda Gray is fantastic at carrying an episode. But my biggest kudos go to Ken Kercheval, who I feel really stole the show here. This performance is probably what convinced the producers to sign him up for keeps.

3. I think that the kidnappers from Tuesday's episode have got to be the most incompetent bunch of morons I've ever seen portrayed on television. I seriously think that Fay's punishment should be to spend jail time in a replica of Willie Gust's van. That way she could get some tips from Willie [who until this episode was the most incompetent felon] on how to be a criminal, and she could probably make herself a few outfits from the shag carpeting in the van.

2. I think I was really disturbed by what went on in Monday's episode [the one with Guzzler]. I would seriously hate to be coddled like Guzzler was by Bobby. I was voted most likely to succeed in high school, and I haven't succeeded to the point where I wanted to be yet; but even if I was truly down on my luck, I'd hate for one of my old friends to try and keep up an act whenever I was around. Something is seriously wrong with your ego if you need this kind of thing to maintain your self-esteem. A real friend wouldn't do what Bobby did.

1. I think that I'm going to have to get used to updating the page on Friday nights again! Oh, well, it's worth it. Next week is the week of Julie Grey, who returns to Dallas to unwittingly cause all sorts of mayhem. Over the course of three episodes, we'll settle this whole matter of Jock's red file codicil. On Thursday, the focus turns back to Kristin again, and throughout the week we'll have more trouble in paradise for Pam and Bobby. The only shame of it all is that Sue Ellen is massively depushed.

Monday, August 23

10. I think this may be my most difficult column yet, which is why it's been delayed so long. This is not easy to say, and it's going to sound very Austin Powers-like...but I think I've lost my mojo. I can't for the life of me get excited about doing it. Frankly, I'm a little bit bored. These focus episodes of the show and the general lack of ongoing plotlines is getting to be a bit of a turn-off. I can't even bring myself to re-watch the episodes [as I normally do at the end of the week] to leer at Victoria Principal. Something is definitely wrong. So I'm sorry if this doesn't have the emotional impact that I promised to bring week after week.

9. I think I'm a bit confused about some of the e-mail I've been getting recently. People have been contacting me asking where they can find an episode guide for Dallas. Makes me wonder what I've spent the last year and a half doing.
Let me lay the definitive smackdown on this: my goal [and I think it's been achieved] is to be THE informational storehouse about Dallas. If you want to find out what happened, why, or how come it doesn't make sense, you come here. My site may not be as pretty as other peoples', and it might not be what the casual fan is looking for; but there are enough of those.

However, I am getting the distinct impression that something about this site is confusing people. And I'm sure that that is my fault - I often have a very difficult time expressing what I want to say in the way I want to say it. And that probably extends to the layout of this site. As thoughts and recommendations come to me, I make changes; even small things make a big difference, like that left-side frame. But I humbly beg any and all visitors to the site - if something confuses you, or if you think it would confuse other people, please let me know. I take all recommendations very seriously, and it's a really great thrill for me to watch that hit counter rise at an exponential rate the way it has been. I would really hate to think that someone would come to this site, browse through it, and get frustrated for any reason.

8. I think that, in light of what I've said above, I'll say something that I wanted to say last week: in spite of all the things we do, and how serious we may sound and the detailed manner in which I go about trying to maintain the site, the overall goal of this site is to ENCOURAGE PEOPLE TO HAVE FUN WATCHING DALLAS. That's the key; that's the only thing that matters. If you already have fun watching Dallas, then that's great. If coming to this site allows you to have more fun watching Dallas, then I'm thrilled, and thank you very much. If you'd prefer to just watch the show and not nitpick every little thing, then by all means, don't read the nits. There's plenty of other fun stuff around the site to do. And if you're not having fun watching the show...then what are you doing here?

7. I think that the majority of us agree that at this point in the series, Cliff is a very likable character. Especially after Monday's episode. I liked Cliff a lot until Season 4, when he became a blubbering buffoon. He's sensible AND stylish. A far cry from the Cliff Barnes of the later seasons.

6. I think we missed a really decent nuance of the show on Thursday [Triangle], probably because of some cuts. I happened to read the book that they made of this episode, and a key facet of the interplay between JR, Ray and Garnet, was that JR wanted to prove that he could "steal" Garnet away from the dumb cowboy. Then when Ray say that he didn't want her any more, JR completely lost interest in her, because the aspect of asserting his superiority was no longer there. I found this angle to be particularly interesting when I read about it, and I really missed it during the show.

5. I think I want to type a little bit about classic plot trickery vis-a-vis necessary plot devices. A few people pointed out last week that it was awfully convenient the way that after Lucy blabbed to Ray about JR's affair with Garnet, they ran out to the truck parked outside Southfork so that Pam could overhear their yelling and then tell Bobby about it. Yes, it certainly was convenient...but it was also totally necessary to the plot, so that Bobby could break up the brawl and Ray would end up staying at Southfork. This was not egregious plot trickery - it's a plausible scenario. It COULD happen.

We have to allow the writers SOME leeway here. They need to make things happen the way they want in order to make it entertaining for the audience. A consequence of this is that they have to stretch the imagination a little bit sometimes. The same sort of thing was mentioned when Lucy showed up at Ewing Oil so that she could see Garnet's contract - that was much more egregious. What business does Lucy have, that she needs to show up at JR's office? I suppose it's POSSIBLE that she went over there to try and convince him to get her a record contract - but it certainly seemed to me that the idea popped into her head just as she saw Garnet's contract.

This is not the worst kind of plot trickery. The worst is the sort of thing that happened in Episode 8 when Jenna came back into Bobby's life. Remember the scene where Pam ends up taking Charlie's doll? I didn't notice it at first, but THERE WAS NO REASON for that scene. None at all, other than to put the doll in Pam's hands. All that occurred was that Pam and Jenna met, and Jenna told Bobby that Melissa Anderson was causing trouble for her. This sort of conversation could have [and should have] occurred over the phone. No character development occurred. No plot development. There was not even a "BILC" moment. In fact, the producers COULD HAVE SAVED THEMSELVES THE COST OF A SET by not having this scene. But they did, so that Pam would keep the doll and Bobby would have to go back to Jenna's place to give to her. THAT is classic plot trickery.

Moral of the story: before you jump off the sofa and yell "CPT!", just ask yourself a few simple questions: is there any reasonable purpose for which this weird thing is happening? Does it make sense, even in a fangled way? Is this the only  way it could be accomplished? If the answer to any of the questions is yes, then it's not CPT. It's just a strained story twist. 

4. I think that everybody knows how I felt about "Survival". I can't help thinking that if the Pam/Ellie quarterfinal death match voting took place after this episode, things might have turned out differently. Certainly I don't have to make any pleas to free Barbara Bel Geddes after this one. But the point I wanted to make was actually about Ray. Something that Cliff said during this episode struck a chord with me: he told Sue Ellen that she didn't have to come running just because Ellie called her. Well, Mr. Barnes, I'd like to hear you say that to Eleanor Ewing's face. You might not get off as luck as Kent Jackson. She's liable to break that stack of dimes you call a neck and feed it to you.

But enough about that. I just said that Cliff was a really likable character [for the most part] during these episodes. I'll say the same thing about Ray. Those who have been here for a while know that I generally don't have many good things to say about the Ray character. But the one thing I did like about him is that he always had a lot of respect for Jock and Ellie. On a show like Dallas, it's always great to see a character who knows his role. Right now, Ray knows his role. When Ellie tells him to get the shotgun out of the hall closet, he says, "Yes ma'am." And that's it. When Ellie Ewing wants something you hop to it. End of discussion.

I really don't have a heck of a lot to say about Ray's development in "Triangle", nor in a lot of the upcoming episodes. I guess the point I wanted to make was that non-Ewing characters on the show are at their best when they know their role and take what they're given. It's not that I think Ray doesn't deserve more than to be a foreman and a plaything for horny Ewing women - it's just that he's GOOD where he is.

3. I think that hearing Kate Mulgrew sing on Thursday really makes me appreciate Audrey Landers's talent. Question to the producers: I know the budget was tight, but if you got someone to sing for Charlene Tilton, couldn't you have got someone for Kate?

2. I think that, since as of last week that has become a column for stating what I think, I'll have to come out and say it: I'm really going to miss Valerie. She's moving into a new home which for some ridiculous reason has neither phone nor cable right now, so she won't be able to participate actively on the site for a while until those things get rectified. A few months ago when Anne got very busy with studies and what not, I felt exactly the same way.

Now before all you other AHNs out there start abandoning me just to get some extra attention, let me say from the outset that I appreciate you guys a lot. I always will. You've all been a great help to me through thick and thin, and there's a special place hidden within the HTML coding of this site for all of you. It's just that Val has been a real good friend to me for quite some time, just as Anne was [and is], and it's just a shame I won't see her name in my inbox for a while. Val, if you manage to get here somehow within the next few days, good luck and we're thinking about you.

1. I think that it's time to talk about this upcoming week. Okay, what have we got here? Fallen Idol... Kidnapped... Home Again... For Love or Money. Two good episodes [Tuesday & Thursday], two not-so-great ones. The first is a Pam/Bobby focus episode, in which yet another external influence causes trouble for our two favorite lovebirds. Then on Tuesday, there's a kidnapping which puts Cliff in the very awkward position of having to help the Ewings. Home Again brings YET ANOTHER PERSON from the past back to Southfork and strains the whole family dynamic; and Thursday's episode in truly a classic, carrying on the story of the JR/Sue Ellen/Cliff triangle and finally bringing some confrontations to a head.

Saturday, August 14

10. I think I have to go back to letting this column be what I originally wanted it to be - an in-your-face, frank, shameless plug of what I think. No more weak, wimpy, let's-all-get-along-and agree stuff. And anyone who bothers me about not being politically correct - I've got two words for you. And if you want to know what they are, tune in to the USA Network at 9 PM on Monday night.

9. I think that I had better get my first politically incorrect stance out of the way while the getting is good. This is a really tough one to say, primarily because it's aimed at the people who keep this site going - the AHNs and other people without whom I could not do this.
Okay, I've taken my deep breath. There's no easy way to say this, so here goes: you guys have got to stop having orgasms over these early episodes. THEY ARE NOT THAT GOOD. Yes, they're better than that crap that we were subjected to in Season 13, where a child of two could have counted the number of characters that appeared in any given episode.
If you enjoyed a particular episode, then that's great. Having fun while watching the show is what's important. But if any of you thinks that any one of the episodes we have seen in the last three weeks comes anywhere close to having the dramatic appeal and construction of episodes such as "Swan Song" and "A House Divided", I'll have to politely ask you to give your heads a shake.
Wait a minute...I said no wimpiness. Remove "politely" from that last sentence.

8. I think that, despite the fact that it occasionally gives me a reason to wake up in the morning, I'm really a bit disheartened by the way the producers shamelessly chose to exploit and embellish Victoria Principal's sexuality during these early episodes. Not because this is a bad thing in itself; but more because it backfires so badly in later seasons when she doesn't want to be a dolly any more. These are the things that Sable complexes are made of. [For those who don't know: a Sable complex occurs in women who've been so sexualized by the entertainment industry that they think they're goddesses on earth - good enough to pose nude in Playboy for millions of dollars, but not good enough to make a serious commitment to the company that made them stars].

7. I think that I need to express my genuine surprise at the way the women are taking over this site. I can't remember the last time I anointed a male AHN - I think it was Rob. This is by no means a bad thing - I think that on most occasions, the quality of submitted nits is directly proportional to the number of ladies whose names appear in my Nits folder. For months last year I was extremely worried about the lack of female input, and at many times the lack of ANY input. In light of my new anti-PC stance, I'm putting out an open invitation to guys: be a part of this gig, dudes. It's time to drool at Vicki's nipples while the drooling is good.

6. I think that I have a real problem with the Sue Ellen of the early episodes. Her taste in clothes [not to mention cars] is just way too frumpy and earthy for me. This is a woman whose one good thing in life is being Mrs. J.R. Ewing - she should be living the high life and taking advantage of everything it has to offer! Instead of dressing, styling, and driving like Krystle Carrington, Sue Ellen is content with being a cross betwen Weezey Jefferson and Edith Bunker. Ridiculous.

5. I think that "Runaway", Thursday's episode, could have been quite a good episode if it hadn't been so cheesy. I was almost going to blast it for bogosity of premise. [Bogosity: noun. The state or quality of being bogus, q.v.] The whole idea for this episode was exceedingly shaky and movie-of-the-week-like. The most laughable thing was that Lucy's birthday party was actually held. That nearly did it for me. If this had been any family other than the what-me-worry Ewings, I would have changed the channel.
I know Charlene Tilton fashioned a pretty decent career away from Dallas by playing the young braless sexy girl whose hitchhiking escapades go awry; but she totally sucked as Bonnie to Willie's Clyde. What would have made this episode more interesting would have been if she somehow got a thrill by being involved in Willie's wild activities. Not the gun-toting and maiming; but maybe they could have done something less angst-ridden than senseless petty theft and less lame than allowing Charlene to live out Milli Vanilli fantasies.

4. I think that I've noticed something very odd about this and the last series run. Jason reminded me about the scene in Episode 10 in which Ray gets the smackdown from Sue Ellen after having been her daddy the night before. It was not shown this time around. And it wasn't shown last time either - I know because I have it on tape. BUT I HAVE SEEN THIS SCENE. I know I have because I can picture it perfectly in my mind's eye.
What does this mean? Well, I'll have to backtrack a little bit to explain it properly. We always complain about TNN's cuts and how damaging they are to our proper viewing of the series. I've let it pass until now, and I probably will in the future, but this is facutally incorrect: generally speaking, these cuts are NOT done by TNN. They're done by CBS, which looks at the episodes and takes out scenes and remasters the film so that TNN can show it the way it does. Another consequence of this is that some lazy programming worker at TNN just has to put a tape in a machine and can then go to a three-hour lunch. And of course, he or she is much too important to come in on Fridays or statutory holidays to put the tape in, even though he doesn't seem to mind doing it for Alice and The Dukes of Hazzard. To that programming guy or girl: I better not meet you in a dark alley.
Unfortunately, cuts are necessary for dramas shown in syndication - it's simply a money thing. Networks which air dramas in syndication make money in only one way - advertising dollars. They don't make a dime when JR Ewing is on our screen; they do make some when that old diabetic lady on Medicare could be going to the drugstore - but she's not.
When episodes of Dallas were originally aired, they featured approximately 48 minutes of actual episode footage. That doesn't include commercials, nor the opening or closing credits. What we see on TNN is usually between 44 and 45 minutes of actual footage because TNN has to cram a whole lot more commercials into this hour to make it worth their while to allow us to watch it. I'll let you do the math.
Did I have a point here? Oh, yeah, and this is it: I can't blame TNN for the cuts which are necessary to syndication and over which they have no control. But now I have visual evidence that TNN IS CUTTING EVEN MORE OUT OF THE EPISODES in order to give themselves even more advertising time. There can be only one reason for this - because their sponsors are demanding more time during Dallas. Why? Because the almighty ratings must show that more and more people are watching. Ask anybody who's even remotely involved with television or advertising about how important ratings are in influencing the decisions of ad executives. And yet, the powers that be at TNN don't exercise their tiny brains enough to add two and two and realize that THE MORE THEY SHOW DALLAS, THE MORE ADVERTISING REVENUE THEY WILL GET. I nominate them for a real life April award.

3. I think that I'm going to have to introduce a Dallas nitpicker's prime directive, which takes effect immediately. The directive is this: unless there is DIRECT EVIDENCE to the contrary, we as nitpickers must make reasonable assumptions about the course of events as they unfold. What this means is that we should give characters the benefit of the doubt about their actions and their motives, unless they're clearly illogical. Here's a case in point, which I was going to bring up in Episode 10, but then felt that it would contradict the prime directive: Pamela suddenly doesn't want to have a baby right now. She did a few episodes ago; she will again. Ordinarily, I would censure Pam for being so narrow-minded about this, despite the fact that Bobby is being kind of a jerk about it too. But I won't because Pam is a real person [as real as TV characters get] and she has the right to change her mind and her feelings about things. So the next time you wonder why he did this or why she did that, keep the prime directive in mind. I'm just as guilty of this kind of mild hypocrisy as everybody else. If I do it, make sure to check me into the Smackdown hotel.

2. I think that I had better start writing Battle Royale scenarios more than twelve hours before I post them. Do you have any idea how hard it was to knock Bobby off? Well, it was tough until I came up with the slow-motion "NO!" idea. It was made even more difficult by the fact that I didn't know who was going to win this match until 11 PM that night. This match was dead even at that point. That morning, Jock had been ahead by five votes, and when I checked the count after work, Bobby got five nods in a row. Jock ended up winning by only two.
And as hard as it was to get rid of the Bob-man, I had to lose the indestructible Ellie. I was secretly hoping that she would reach the final with either Katherine or Angelica because I honestly couldn't find any good way for Ellie to job. I don't mind telling you that I wasn't really satisfied with the way I made it happen. I'd be glad to entertain any other suggestions for a rewrite of this one. [And Mandy Winger just keeps rolling along...]

1. I think, I've said a lot. Cathartic for me, in a way. And I used too many dashes. That's a sign that I've gone overboard.
Anywho, let's take a preliminary look at next week. We've got "Election", which I liked because I felt it turned Cliff into a really neat character. Then "Survival", for which I will NOT be accepting Line of the Day suggestions, and if you don't know why, shame on you. Wednesday gives us "Act of Love", a soppy Pam/Bobby episode in which Pam's theme will be played until my teeth are worn to bits from gritting. Then we wrap up with "Triangle", which features JR in his first life-wrecking episode, and actually features the forgotten man, Steve Kanaly. You'll never watch "Star Trek: Voyager" the same way again after this episode.

Friday, August 6

11. I think that I must be getting too good at this. I have yet again come up with ten things this week - and surprisingly, I don't even use #10 as a public service announcement! Amazing, given the minor shock I got last night that Geocities has stopped redirecting e-mail and I had to scramble to collect mail that had accumulated over the last few days. Rest assured it's been taking care of. But please do note that if you want to send mail, please do so to, and not the old address. All of the links to e-mail on the site have been modified to reflect the change, so if you click on a link, you'll be okay. Strangely enough, polls work just fine, so don't worry about resubmitting anything.

10. I think that I need to put out a plea for information from our friends down in Texas. Several people are asking me for behind-the-scenes information about Southfork. The most common question is regarding the change that occurred in Southfork when the series was accepted. Clearly the home that we see during the mini-series is different from the Southfork of the rest of the series, and my only logical conclusion is that the producers chose a completely different house for the main series run. I would be very grateful to anyone who could confirm this, or has any other information about the home itself.

9. I think I had better explain all of these new-fangled awards that we're giving out every episode. Some of them are carryovers: Line of the Day and Bonehead Dialogue are fairly straightforward. Here's a breakdown of the rest:

  • Lucy Award: for non-contribution to the show. First dibs on this award go to any member of the mainline cast who is not seen or only has a token scene not germane to the plot. [Therefore Cliff is not really eligible for this award this season.] If all of the mainline cast contributes to the show, then we can consider someone who is credited as a guest star but does not appear, or doesn't do much.
  • Angelica Award: for horrendous fashion sense. If you don't know why, visit the Angelica Nero fashion file.
  • Bobby Award: for bad hair days.
  • Pam Award: formerly known as the Anti-Angelica award. For being all that and a side order of onion rings.
  • April Award: an extension of AHN Rob's "Dummy Move of the Day". For the character who has the most serious brain spasm.

8. I think that this week [extending into next week] is my favorite Victoria Principal look. Not that she doesn't look great for the rest of the series, but there's just something about her in 1978. I think it's the hair, but certainly the figure-flattering dresses help.

7. I think that the Battle Royale is DEFINITELY one of the best ideas I've had. This is a lot of fun, despite the fact that my girl Katherine was eliminated in the second round. I for one was looking forward to an Angelica-Katherine showdown that would have been really fun to script. Oh well.
Just a brief word about the initial smattering of votes for this round: two matches are completely deadlocked; one participant seems to be well on her/his way to the semifinal; and the other is still too close to call yet. Can you believe that Jock and Ellie still might end up as King and Queen of the Hill?

6. I think that, speaking of Jock and Ellie, they seriously need to be given pushes on the show. When they do, it makes for some great watching. Monday's episode, which is more about Jock than Ellie, is a classic; and of course, there's Barbara Bel Geddes' awesome performance in Episode 14 where she establishes herself as Dallas's premiere smackdown-layer. Certainly BBG and Jim Davis knew going in that they weren't going to be the superstars, but it's evident to anybody that the show is much better when they're involved. And I must say that for a woman of 56, Bel Geddes looks really good.

5. I think that episode such as the one we saw yesterday are a good example of how the producers definitely considered Dallas to be the Patrick and Vicki show. I for one found it rather interesting how Larry Hagman took a quiet backseat to the proceedings, content to be present in a supporting role while the focus is shifted elsewhere. There will be quite a few of these trouble-in-paradise-theme shows over the next couple of weeks, interspersed between episodes that give us new insights into the characters.

4. I think that Episode 8 is a great example of how subtle classic plot trickery can be. Of course, I'm talking about the much-nitpicked scene where Pam ends up taking Charlie's doll away from her. At first glance, this scene is almost harmless and [I daresay] believable. But then you think about it for a second and if you ask yourself, "what did this scene accomplish?", you'll find yourself hard-pressed for answers. Bobby talks to Jenna about her troubles; sure, but he could have done that over the phone. Pam and Jenna meet; yeah, but they could have met some other way. Any normal group of people would have SOMEHOW managed to get the doll back in Charlie's [or at worst, Jenna's] hands. Close scrutiny reveals that there was really zero plot development in this scene and the lone reason it happened was so that the doll ends up in the car and Bobby has to go back to Jenna's place. This is a really small thing, but it raises the question in my mind of whether the Jenna character is worth all of the story inconsistencies it takes to make her meaningful.

3. I think I want to mention, before I forget, something that I recall from a while ago. When I was an active participant on the wretched Dallas newsgroup, there was one person who would always stick to the premise that "Jock was an ass." [That person will remain Nameless, of course]. I question the judgment and forthrightness of anyone who could watch Episode 6 and say that. Yes, Jock has a gruff exterior. Most men of his generation did. But for a man like him to come up with a line such as the one about breaking down walls is exceedingly commendable. This man is truly a gentle giant and his bark is clearly much worse than his bite. There's a heart of gold underneath the layers of dead wood. Saying that Jock is an ass is a lot like dismissing the Lucy character solely on the basis that she's a spoiled brat. Of course she is - would you expect anything less? That's what makes her character the least bit interesting. Those who choose to look only at the exterior of these characters simply don't get it. And that's all I have to say about that.

2. I think that I finally have some good news from the TNN public relations front. The station has just announced that beginning in late September, Thursday night will be "movie night", and they are proud to announce that some of the films that will be shown including all three Dallas-related feature-length films! "The Early Years", "JR Returns", and "War of the Ewings" will be on TV again within the next year, and that's truly excellent. Of course, I'll have all the relevant info about them when it becomes available. As always, check the schedule page for all of the latest updates on airings.

1. I think that next week's episodes offer something for just about everybody. Monday's "Bypass" brings the tug-of-war between JR and Bobby to a head; "Black Market Baby" gives us our first look at Sue Ellen in the real world; "Double Wedding" is another trial for Pam and Bobby's marriage; and "Runaway", the runt of this litter, brings us full-circle back to Lucy and her wild antics. Catch you on the flip side.


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