Created by David Jacobs
Dallas is a long running American prime time television soap opera that revolves around the Ewings, a wealthy Texas family in the oil and cattle-ranching industries. The show was famous for its cliffhangers, including the "Who shot J.R.?" mystery, and the "Dream Season", in which the entirety of season nine was revealed to have been a dream of one of the characters.
Throughout the series, Larry Hagman stars as greedy, scheming oil baron J. R. Ewing. The show also starred stage/screen actress Barbara Bel Geddes as family matriarch Miss Ellie, and movie Western actor Jim Davis in his last role as Ewing patriarch Jock Ewing before his death in 1981. The series won four Emmy Awards, including a 1980 Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series win for Barbara Bel Geddes.
Dallas was included in Time magazine's 2007 list of "100 Best TV Shows of All-TIME". By the time the show concluded in 1991 it had become one of the longest lasting primetime dramas in American TV history, second only to Gunsmoke and Law & Order, which both tie as the longest lasting American TV dramas with 20 seasons for each show. Dallas' series finale was the second highest rated TV episode ever, behind MASH's finale, with a 53.3 rating and share of 80. Dallas' spinoff Knots Landing also lasted 14 seasons.
In 2010, TNT announced they were producing a new, updated series of Dallas. The new series, continuing the story of the Ewing family, premiered on TNT on June 13, 2012.
The show debuted on April 2, 1978, as a five-part miniseries on the CBS network. Producers initially had no plans for expansion; however, due to the show's popularity, it was subsequently turned into a regular series and broadcast for 13 more seasons from September 23, 1978, to May 3, 1991. The first five episodes (originally viewed as a miniseries) are now considered to be season one — so in all the series had fourteen seasons.
The miniseries was shot entirely on location in Dallas, Texas, and at the Cloyce Box Ranch in Frisco, Texas. Later, most interiors for the show were shot at the MGM studios in Hollywood, with some exteriors being shot at the Southfork Ranch in Parker, Texas, and other sections of Dallas, until 1989, when rising production costs led to all filming being relocated to California. Typically the cast and crew would spend six to eight weeks filming on-location sequences in the Dallas area during the summer prior to the season, then film the remainder of the season in the Los Angeles area; less than half of the episodes in a given season had on-location sequences filmed in Dallas. MGM built a full-size replica of the Southfork Ranch backyard and pool on one of its soundstages, allowing for filming of "location" shots during the latter part of the season.
The show is known for its portrayal of wealth, sex, intrigue, and power struggles. Throughout the series the main premise is the longtime rivalry between the Ewings and the Barnes which came to head when Barnes daughter, Pamela Barnes (Victoria Principal) eloped with Ewing son, Bobby Ewing (Patrick Duffy) in the first episode.
The back story was that, way back in the 1930s, John Ross "Jock" Ewing, Sr. (Jim Davis) had allegedly cheated his one-time partner, Willard "Digger" Barnes (guest stars David Wayne and Keenan Wynn), out of his share of their company, and married Digger's only love, Eleanor "Miss Ellie" Southworth (Barbara Bel Geddes). Ellie's family were - in contrast to Jock - ranchers, with great love for the land and the cattle. Following the marriage of Ellie and Jock, the Southworth family ranch, Southfork, became the Ewings' home, where Jock and Miss Ellie raised three sons: J.R. (Larry Hagman), Gary (guest stars David Ackroyd and Ted Shackelford) and Bobby
J.R., the eldest Ewing son, unscrupulous and unhappily married to a former Miss Texas, Sue Ellen Shepard (Linda Gray), was frequently at odds with his youngest brother, Bobby, who had the morals and integrity that J.R. lacked. Middle son Gary was Ellie's favourite as he displayed Southworth traits; however, Gary had been in conflict with both Jock and J.R. since childhood and was dismissed as a weak link. While still young, Gary had married waitress Valene Clements (guest star Joan Van Ark), who produced the first heir, the petite and saucy Lucy (Charlene Tilton). Years prior to the series beginning, J.R. had driven Gary and Valene off Southfork, leaving Lucy to be raised by her grandparents.
During the first episodes of the series, the teenaged Lucy is seen sleeping with ranch foreman Ray Krebbs (Steve Kanaly). Later, Krebbs would be revealed as a half-sibling, an illegitimate Ewing son through an extramarital affair Jock had during World War II. Unhappy with his small, one-dimensional role, Kanaly considered leaving the show. To add depth to the Krebbs character, Hagman suggested that the writers create a plot wherein Ray becomes half-brother to J.R., Gary, and Bobby, noting his resemblance to Davis. The episodes where Ray and niece Lucy had a fling is, as Kanaly told Dinah Shore in an appearance on her show, "prayerfully forgotten, I hope".
Ray had previously engaged in a short fling with Pamela Barnes, the daughter (or rather, as it were later revealed, stepdaughter) of Digger Barnes. However, Pam fell deeply in love with Bobby, and the pilot episode begins with the two of them arriving at Southfork Ranch as newlyweds, shocking the entire family. J.R., who loathed the Barnes family, was not happy with Pam's living at Southfork, and constantly tried to undermine her marriage to Bobby. Meanwhile, Pam's brother Cliff Barnes (Ken Kercheval), who had inherited Digger's hatred towards the Ewings, shared J.R.'s objections to the marriage, and continued his father's quest to get revenge.
As the series progressed, the focus gradually moved away from Bobby's and Pam's relationship - even though it lasted until Principal left the series in 1987 - and J.R., whose schemes and dirty business became the show's trademark, grew to be the show's main character. When the show ended in 1991, J.R. was the only character to have appeared in every episode.
Most of the seasons ended with ratings-grabbing cliffhangers. Some notable cliffhangers include the season three finale "A House Divided", which launched the landmark "Who shot J.R.?" storyline and was ranked #69 on TV Guide's list of "TV's Top 100 Episodes of All Time"; the finding of an unidentified floating female corpse in the Southfork swimming pool (season four); and a blazing house fire (season six).
Miniseries/Season One cliffhanger: Although this really was not a cliffhanger, the end of the fifth episode of the original Dallas miniseries saw J.R. go up to the loft of the barn to talk to Pam, who had gone up there to find her cousin Jimmy, after Digger had fallen off the wagon at the Ewing barbecue. J.R., intoxicated, tries to convince her to tell Bobby not to leave the ranch. However, she does not want to be bothered, and, in trying to escape J.R., she falls from the loft, landing square on her stomach. Pam, who is pregnant, miscarries her unborn child. Later, Sue Ellen questions J.R. as to whether it was really an accident or did he mean for Pam to fall on purpose. J.R. says, "I did not." When Sue Ellen asks J.R. if he cares that Pam lost the baby, J.R. does not answer her, leaving it up to the viewer to decide.
Season Two cliffhanger: Sue Ellen's drinking problem has landed her in a sanitarium, where she is pregnant with a child she believes is Cliff Barnes'. She escapes from the sanitarium, gets drunk, and then gets into a severe car accident, putting her life and the baby's life in danger. The doctors deliver the baby, named John Ross Ewing III (after J.R [John Ross, Jr.]. and Jock [John Ross, Sr.]), but he is very small on delivery and is not out of the woods yet; nor is Sue Ellen, who, as the episode ends, is clinging to life. A very distraught J.R. is watching his wife at the end of the episode in tears, saying that she's "just gotta live."
Season Three cliffhanger: To cap off a season where J.R. has angered nearly everyone in the state of Texas, someone comes into his office late at night and shoots him twice. This episode sets off the now infamous "Who shot J.R.?" scenario which has been recreated numerous times.
Season Four cliffhanger: While heading to a late-night business meeting with Bobby, Cliff finds a woman's body floating in the Southfork pool. He jumps into the pool to see who it is, and when he looks back up, J.R. is standing on the balcony over the pool. Believing J.R. is responsible, Cliff says to his rival, "She's dead. You bastard."
Season Five cliffhanger: Cliff Barnes' year had not been a good one. Sue Ellen, with whom he'd had an off-and-on relationship, decided to return to J.R. and plans to marry him again (which J.R. manipulated solely so he can benefit from his father's will). In addition, J.R. helped to nearly drive Cliff's mother's company into bankruptcy, which cost Cliff his job. Cliff attempts suicide with an overdose of pills, and a guilt-ridden Sue Ellen rushes to his bedside as Cliff lies in a coma. J.R. tries to convince Sue Ellen that it was not anybody's fault but Cliff's for what happened, but Sue Ellen disagrees and says she does not know if she can remarry J.R. if Cliff dies, thus potentially jeopardising J.R.'s inheritance.
Season Six cliffhanger: A drunk Sue Ellen and Ray Krebbs' cousin Mickey Trotter are involved in an accident, in a car belonging to J.R., just outside Southfork. Sue Ellen emerges unhurt, but Mickey is paralyzed and in a coma. Ray finds out that the driver of the other car was Walt Driscoll, J.R.'s rival. He also learns that Driscoll deliberately caused the accident, thinking that J.R. was driving, as a means of revenge for being put in jail by J.R. earlier in the year. An angered Ray comes to Southfork late at night demanding answers from J.R., who was not expecting to see him. J.R. asks him what is going on and Ray says he's going to kill J.R. for what happened. J.R. throws a candle holder at Ray, which misses him and knocks over another candle holder with lit candles in it. As the two brawl, the candles ignite a fire and the smoke starts to creep into both John Ross and Sue Ellen's bedrooms as they sleep. J.R. notices the fire and tries to break free of Ray, finally knocking him out with a telephone, and runs upstairs to try to save his wife and son. Ray recovers and runs after J.R. but is consumed by smoke and falls. J.R. is hit with a falling beam as he gets upstairs and both men are unconscious as Southfork burns.
Season Seven cliffhanger: In what appears to be a copy of the season three cliffhanger, a mysterious figure enters the Ewing Oil building late one night. Proceeding to J.R.'s office, the figure produces a gun and fires three shots into the back of J.R.'s chair in which somebody is sitting. As the victim falls out of the chair and to the ground, we see it is Bobby Ewing that has been shot.
Season Eight cliffhanger: Bobby, who has been divorced from Pam for over a year and is now engaged to Jenna Wade, decides that he wants to remarry his ex-wife instead, and Pam agrees. The next morning, as Bobby is leaving Pam's house, someone drives a car at high speed toward Pam. Bobby shoves her out of the way just before she is hit but cannot get out of the way of the car in time to save himself. Bobby is rushed to the hospital where he later dies.
Season Nine cliffhanger: Evil businesswoman Angelica Nero intends to kill J.R. and his cousin Jack for double crossing her, but J.R. has her apprehended by the police. Unfortunately, Angelica has already had a bomb attached to Jack's car, which explodes with Jamie inside. After hearing this on the phone, J.R. runs out of his office to go to Jack's apartment. As he leaves the office, Sue Ellen arrives in the other elevator looking for him. As soon as she enters J.R.'s office, another bomb left by Angelica goes off, and the entire floor that houses Ewing Oil explodes, showering debris onto the street below. The scene then shifts to Pam in bed, the day after her marriage to Mark Graison. Pam wakes up to hear the shower running. Assuming it's Mark, she opens the shower door, only to find Bobby Ewing, alive and well. (In the Season Ten premiere, Bobby's death and all of Season Nine would be revealed as a dream that Pam was having).
Season Ten cliffhanger: The Ewings suffer a devastating loss as Ewing Oil is closed down by the US State Department as punishment for J.R.'s shady dealings which caused an international incident. Pam, on her way home to Bobby from the doctor's office after finding out she can finally conceive a baby, crashes into a fuel tanker which then explodes.
Season Eleven cliffhanger: J.R. and Sue Ellen's new beau Nicholas Pearce fight in J.R.'s penthouse hotel suite, and during the course of the fight Pearce goes over the balcony and falls to his death. Shocked by what she has just seen and believing that J.R. has killed her lover, Sue Ellen then picks up a gun from the floor and shoots J.R. three times. She then picks up the phone and tells the police she would like to report a double murder.
Season Twelve cliffhanger: Sue Ellen prepares to leave Dallas for good, but before she does she has one last surprise for her ex-husband J.R. Sue Ellen has made a biographical motion picture about her marriage to him (with actors portraying them and the other Ewings) and previews the film to J.R. who is shocked by what he has just seen. Sue Ellen tells J.R. that she is leaving Dallas, but if he ever crosses her again in the future - or even if she wakes up on the wrong side of bed one morning - she will release the film and J.R. will be made "the laughing stock of Texas" and ruined forever. She then leaves Dallas, triumphant at last.
Season Thirteen cliffhanger: After deliberately committing himself into a sanitarium in order to persuade a patient (Clayton's sister Jessica) to sign over her voting majority in Weststar Oil, J.R.'s plan backfires when Cally Harper, his latest scorned woman, and his illegitimate son James Beaumont coerce him into signing a property waiver before they will allow him to be released. Once he does, James tears up J.R.'s release papers anyway leaving him trapped in the sanitarium with no means of escape.
Season Fourteen cliffhanger: After finally losing Ewing Oil to Cliff Barnes, control of Southfork to Bobby, and being abandoned by his wife and children, a drunk and despondent J.R. begins walking around the ranch alone with a loaded gun wishing he had never been born. A gunshot is later fired in J.R.'s bedroom as Bobby returns to Southfork, and he rushes up to J.R.'s room and gasps, saying "Oh, my God!" as the series ends.
Prior to Dallas' premiere, series creator David Jacobs originated the idea for a drama series about four married couples. CBS, however, wanted a glitzy "saga-like" show, resulting in Jacobs creating Dallas. When the series proved to be a hit, CBS reconsidered Jacobs' original idea, which evolved into Dallas spin-off series Knots Landing in late 1979.
Knots Landing followed the lives of Lucy's parents, Gary (Ted Shackelford) and Valene (Joan Van Ark), as they move to California to start a new life. During the first seasons, several Dallas actors (Larry Hagman, Patrick Duffy, Charlene Tilton and Mary Crosby) made guest appearance in the new series, portraying their Dallas characters, and Ted Shackelford and Joan Van Ark would continue to make the occasional appearance in Dallas.
The ongoing bond between the two series was eventually cut in 1986, as the tenth season premiere declared Bobby's death the previous year, a dream. Bobby's dying had had major influence on the Knots Landing story lines as well (including the naming Gary's newborn son "Bobby" in honor of his deceased uncle, and causing Gary's relapse into alcoholism). Unlike the Dallas producers, the Knots Landing writers were not ready to reset their series, resulting in the two series drifting apart, never to intervene with each other again.
Shackelford and Van Ark did however reprise their roles for the Dallas series finale, which showed what would have happened to their characters if J. R. had never existed.
Created by David Jacobs (original series)
Developed by Cynthia Cidre
Dallas is an American prime time television soap opera. The series is a continuation/reboot of the original series of the same name that aired on CBS from 1978 to 1991 and ignores the events of the TV movies Dallas: J.R. Returns and Dallas: War of the Ewings. It includes several actors/characters from the original series, though focuses mainly on John Ross Ewing III and Christopher Ewing, the adult sons of Ewing brothers J. R. and Bobby, respectively.
The series revolves around the Ewings, a wealthy Dallas family in the oil and cattle-ranching industries. It focuses mainly on John Ross Ewing III (Josh Henderson), the son of J.R. (Larry Hagman) and Sue Ellen Ewing (Linda Gray); and Christopher Ewing (Jesse Metcalfe), the adopted son of Bobby (Patrick Duffy) and Pam Ewing. Both John Ross and Christopher were born during the original series' run and were featured in it as children (played by different actors). Now grown, John Ross has become almost a carbon copy of his father, bent on oil, money and greed. Christopher, meanwhile, has become a lot like Bobby, in that he is more interested in the upkeep of Southfork Ranch, much like his father and his late grandmother, Miss Ellie. As an additional point of contention, Christopher is also becoming a player in alternative energy (methane clathrate recovery), thereby eschewing the oil business. However John Ross is determined to resurrect the Ewings' former position in the oil industry.
Alongside John Ross and Christopher, original series characters Bobby, J. R. and Sue Ellen return in full capacity for the new series. Additional familiar characters, including J. R. and Bobby's niece Lucy Ewing Cooper (Charlene Tilton), their half brother Ray Krebbs (Steve Kanaly), and Ewing family rival Cliff Barnes (Ken Kercheval), appear as guest stars.
New main characters include Bobby's new wife, Ann Ewing (Brenda Strong); Christopher's wife Rebecca Sutter Ewing (Julie Gonzalo); and Elena Ramos (Jordana Brewster), the daughter of the Ewing family cook, caught in a love triangle with Christopher and John Ross.