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Dallas



Knots Landing

The Way We Live-Knots Landing drabble. Mac/Greg
Never Con a Conman-Knots Landing/Doctor Who crossover. Jack/Greg



Live at Five





You want Zeitgeist? It's pretty hard to get more Zeitgeist than Dallas in its first two seasons, leading up to the famous "Who Shot JR?" plot. Remember, we're back in the days of three networks, barely any cable to speak of, no internet etc etc. You might not even have a TV set, might think it was all rubbish and be a proud NPR listener and you STILL knew about Dallas. It put the "prime time soap" on the map and gave Larry Hagman a second career when he was at risk of never getting past I Dream of Jeannie. (Eventually the schedule would be flooded with prime time soaps, including John Barrowman's two short-lived forays.)

I don't remember watching. I didn't think I was interested, although I know my mother watched and I may have stayed up to watch with her. However, even though I can't remember doing the actual watching, I remember having seen actual scenes, mostly of JR being a prick to Ray Krebs and just about everyone else. I DON'T remember any of the steamy sex that was presumably involved. Larry Hagman really did luck out getting that role and finding that bastard in himself.

Rather than remembering watching or even talking with other people about the show, what I remember is hearing about it on Live at Five.

Back in three network plus PBS day, there actually was such a thing as network loyalty and it even extended to or started with the news division. My family were NBC people. Our nightly news broadcast was David Brinkley and John Chancellor (would have been Huntley/Brinkley, but that was before my time) rather than Walter Cronkite and that extended to the local news as well. Long before I was writing fanfic about Rachel Maddow and Keith Olbermann, I made up stories about Sue Simmons and Chuck Scarborough being involved. I got my weather from Dr. Frank Field, my political news from Gabe Pressman, and my pop culture from Katie Kelly. I couldn't find a picture, but you have to imagine this very warm, maternal, blonde/silver haired woman who in retrospect was sort of a prototype of the DOB (dirty old broad) style of fan (as opposed to the squeee-ing fangirl we're more familiar with today.)

Anyway, Katie Kelly told me who the sexiest baseball players were (Bucky Dent, Lee Mazilli) and kept me informed about the nefarious doings of JR Ewing. What I most remember was her line about Sue Ellen's miscarriages. "Sue Ellen's first miscarriage was caused by a snake and her second was caused by JR. Many people think there was no difference." (Or something to that effect.)

So when I think of Dallas, I think of Katie Kelly and I remember watching Live at Five on WNBC.

Dallas spun off into Knots Landing in 1979. At the time, I wasn't really paying much attention. In fact, I look at the first season credits and there's virtually nobody I recognize or have much interest in. The only reason I ever came to Knots Landing was one man: William Devane. OMG, did I have a crush on William Devane, and that crush was (and maybe still is) built on the impact of seeing him as JFK in Missiles of October. (If I could include Made-for-TV movies, I'd be able to knock off another number.) William Devane IS my JFK. Martin Sheen is my Bobby. There was also a remake of From Here to Eternity and a short-lived series, but I'm not sure I remember much of that. Hell, I have stronger memories of Devane and Robert Conrad as co-athletes on Battle of the Network T and A Stars, with Conrad as the team captain. (Fic, now I want fic.)

So eventually, I glommed on to the fact that William Devane was on Knots Landing playing a Kennedy-esque character, but I wasn't able to start watching immediately, so I missed Doug Sheehan, who I knew from General Hospital and Alec Baldwin before his brief leading man period in movies. I did watch at least the last four or five seasons. I loved Greg Sumner SO MUCH. Seriously, the actor+part+charisma equation was absolutely perfect. I still kind of wish they hadn't screwed up his marriage to Anne because he and Michelle Philips were really amazing together and Nicolette Sheridan was just too blonde and too young and too skinny and too-too. I wasn't actively slashing yet, but in retrospect the Greg/Mac relationship was so fraught and I had loved Kevin Dobson back in his Kojak days. (I even thought he was good Mike Hammer in a one-off TV movie that preceeded the Stacy Keach version. I'm sorry, Mike Hammer should NOT have a mustache.)

I do give KL credit for coming to a good conclusion and wrapping up the stories, and then having Donna Mills come back. I followed Mr. Devane to some of the shows that followed...we WILL have to talk about Phenom at some point, and was recently thrilled to see him on NCIS in a guest roll. (Wiki tells me he has once again assumed the office of President in the new Batman movie.) I think I can honestly say I'd still do him.

There was only other great long-running prime-time soap IMAO, which defined the 80's and became a Zeitgeist show. (Sorry, Falcon Crest just didn't do it for me.) That was Dynasty and that comes next.

Comments

chocolate_frapp
Jul. 27th, 2012 06:02 pm (UTC)
I never did get why Dallas was so popular but I've never been a soap fan.
I remember Bucky Dent primarily because my sister had a crush on him when we were kids (she usually went for the jocks).
karaokegal
Jul. 27th, 2012 06:26 pm (UTC)
It was definitely something to do with the late 70's about to become the 80's and the craving for glamour, plus the story-telling wasn't bad.

Bucky Dent wasn't bad looking back in the day. I think Lee Mazilli was cuter. Of course none of them have aged well. Jocks generally don't and baseball players tend not to be the fittest to start with, so when it goes to hell, it ALL goes to hell. Dimaggio being the exception because Dimaggio is always the exception.

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