Yee-haw...Dallas is back!
I am in shock. I've just figured out that when Dallas first hit TV screens I was five years old. Pigtails were de rigeur, I hadn't yet made my communion money and was roughly the same height as Lucy. When it finished, I was in college – that's a whole lifetime spent with a family that wasn't my own. An amoral Texan oil baron, his goody-two-shoes brother, his ever-so-slightly intoxicated missus, his mama and roughly half the actors who have ever appeared in anything – ever - including Brad Pitt and the guy from Show Boat.
Dallas was as much part of a 1980's Irish childhood as sandwiches wrapped in bread packets and fizzle sticks. Play me the theme tune - those swirling violins; and show me the opening credits – remember the helicopter reflected in the mirrored building? And then the screen splitting three ways as each cast member appeared 'In Alphabetical Order'? Ah Lorimar Productions, how you were spoiling us in those heady days when soap opera was the devil's entertainment!
Of course no one, my age was allowed to stay up for Dallas. News Editor at Cork's Red FM, Lana O'Connor might spend her days chasing hard stories in 2012, but from 1978 onwards she was the one being chased; “I remember being sent up to bed and slowly climbing the stairs as the theme tune was playing”, she says; “With my mother shouting up after me that it was for adults only – ah innocent Ireland!”
Radio producer Venetia Quick remembers the Pam and Bobby disco scene – check it out online. If you're not watching from behind a cushion at the end you are made of steel.
Can We Start Again author, Shirley Benton, recalls how Pam's waist just seemed to decrease in size every time she appeared on screen...for a nation of kids who went to bed at half seven, we all seem to have awfully detailed memories of that little slice of Texas pie!
A quick check amongst friends produces a lot of happy – and sometimes plain weird – memories.
Like how small Lucy actually was, the prevalence of shoulder pads and the fact that with all that money, everyone in the whole family was crammed in to the one house. And it only had one TV.
For me, it was impossibly tight jeans and big buckles – how you could comfortably wrangle a sandwich, never mind a steer in that lot? And Sue Ellen's quivering lips – a memory shared fondly by many. While everyone else delivered their lines in precise, meaningful staccato bursts, she managed to turn everything she said into a badly – dubbed soap-opera-within-a-soap-opera, adding roughly a thousand extra syllables to each word. But for heavens sakes who could blame her for being a touch tipsy? No one in that house ever finished a drink. They'd pop the lids off the decanters, pour a glass of what looked like delicious TK Red Lemonade, raise it to their lips...and then put it straight back down again. She didn't have a drink problem – she was just trying to keep on top of the washing up. After all, Theresa, the maid, was so busy carrying that massive telephone around after Miss Ellie that someone had to chip in with the housework.
Of course by 1986 when Bobby stepped out of that shower, it had completely jumped the shark. How ridiculous, everyone said, but had no one noticed they'd had a temp in for Miss Ellie for a whole season once? Dallas laboured on for another five years of Oil Barons Balls and shovings-in-the-pool, ending with a particularly David Lynch-esque finale involving JR, a bottle of (what I took to be) TK Raspberry, a typically wide-eyed Bobby and the Devil. Yes, the Devil. Of course.
For me, Dallas is firmly part of 1980's Ireland – when families sat down together to watch in a land of two-channels; where absolutely everyone talked about it at school the following day, when we only ate packet soup, had flock wallpaper covers on our copies and onions didn't come in red. And in the ad breaks we didn't realise that those women eating the Flakes were doing anything remotely saucy and Big Bad John said 'Oh me aching back!' - commercials that we're sure to remember because by the time someone eventually volunteered to get up and change the channel in a disgruntled fashion, there was no point because Dallas was back on. And besides which, there was nothing else to switch over to.
Dallas 2012 won't be the same – we know that for sure. Christopher and John Ross are all muscle-bound and appear to favour the smaller, more practical belt buckle. JR looks old and Bobby's married to the dead voiceover lady from Desperate Housewives.
Plus, we'll probably record it on our digital boxes and maybe fit it in between Homeland and Mad Men. We might buy it on box set and gorge on an entire series over a weekend. Who knows if we'll even watch?
And this time around, if JR gets shot, we, as a nation, probably won't even go to the bother of putting car stickers up. And I can safely bet that no one will release a single about it. All together now - “Who Shot JR Ewing...Who shot old JR down...”.