Sunday, January 18, 2015

The #SaveDallas Drive Continues

I'm going to date myself here a little, but I can still remember a Dallas when Southfork was a different house and Jock was alive.  It was during that time that the thrill of nighttime soaps developed and Dallas became the cornerstone and basis for all other nighttime soaps.  You had to have better sets, better acting, better plots, and yet somehow stick to the ability to link week-after-week's episodes together in a tight bond that brought viewers back.  Nobody did it better than Dallas.  Dallas did it so well that the "Who Shot J.R.?" theme became the cry for the series, a song, and one of the most talked about cliffhangers (sorry Cliff Barns, not about you) of all time.  When Dallas rode off into the sunset with the apparent suicide of J.R. Ewing, nobody thought it was over.  Everyone knew there would be a movie later and maybe a reunion special.  Just as expected the reunions came, some were specials and some were sit-down and talk about the good-old days events, but they came.  Then, TNT decided to give fans something again.  Not a reboot with new actors playing J.R. etc, not three or four generations later, no TNT gave us the old Ewings and the new Ewings.  They gave us the old Cliff Barns, even though he looks frail in health, and they gave us a young Barns to pave the wave of new destruction.  They gave us the old cunning J.R. and his prototype son in John Ross.  Bobby was back as was Sue Ellen and we even had glimpses of other old characters as well.  Then we got all the new characters with their own set of drama, plots, and ideas on how to make the world better...whether with oil or some other form of energy.  Excitement was in the air.....then TNT struck out.

It was almost as if TNT was preparing for the cancellation from the start.  The show premiered with great ratings in a June slot.  The Wednesday night time slot, while not the historical favorite of Friday night, seemed to be a solid place for Dallas.  TNT then, for some unknown reason decided to move the premiere for season two to January 28, 2013.  They particularly moved the show to Monday night where it could compete with some major competitive shows.   Dallas started on this same night The Big Bang Theory was being used on CBS to help compete against The Bachelor on ABC (two hours) and The Biggest Loser (also two hours) on NBC (Schedule).   Not surprisingly, ratings dropped.  After that second season, TNT made the bold decision to move the show back to February, but still on a Monday night.  Now the show was competing against the two-hour premier of The Voice (Schedule) and many other popular shows leading just before such as Mike and Molly.  One of the final indicators that TNT may have been trying to discredit the show's popularity or justify their decision to cancel came in the Christmas season of 2014.  Rather than release the final season on DVD during Christmas, when consumers were making major purchases, TNT waited until a January purchase date (Dallas on TNT).  It appeared, at least to this writer, that TNT was attempting to put the final nail in the coffin to say, "See, Dallas just isn't popular enough to be on the air.  We were right."

While it could be argued that the death of Larry Hagman may have been the death shot (no pun intended) to the show, in truth that is not likely.  Hagman died during the production of season two (Ref).  However, to be honest, the old J.R. character that people knew and loved was really a background character for the younger cast.  Most fans, including this writer, could tell that Hagman was not in the best of health and he seemed to be getting weaker during each appearance on-screen.  A close examination of his hands during one of the last on-screen scenes with Josh Henderson revealed spots and frailty that seemed to indicate a sick man was working.  Regardless of the loss of Hagman, it should be noted that Dallas lost other stars along the way and survived.  While J.R. may have been the prime character of the late 70's, 80's, and early 90's run of the original show, he was clearly not intended to be the main character for the new series.  Dallas deals with life, though often inflated, and in life people die.  So the death of J.R. worked well into the story, the series, and as a tribute to the actor and man who made J.R. come to life.  Fans could rest happy know that not only did Hagman bring J.R. to life and become the character, but he also succeeded in what many actors can only dream of doing and that is walking the character out of life as well.  No, the death of J.R. was not the death shot for the show, it was just a change along the way and change is something Dallas has always faced head-on and flowed through.

So, if J.R.'s death did not kill the show, then the only logical thing to conclude is that ratings killed the show; however that is doubtful as well. Strong fans will remember that TNT did an online survey wanting to know where fans would like to see Dallas go for season four.  Questions were asked about the John Ross' sister link, what to do with other characters, and how to develop the show.  It appeared to any fan that Dallas would be moving strong into season four.  Then came the boom and TNT dropped the show.  Interestingly, the major thing that seemed to change the Dallas landscape was still TNT's decision to move to Monday night.  It can be seen in the chart below from Chart Page:

Season# Ep.Timeslot (ET)PremieredEndedAverage
(in millions)
(in millions)
(in millions)
110Wednesday 9:00 pmJune 13, 20126.86[45]August 8, 20124.29[46]4.5[47]
215Monday 9:00 pmJanuary 28, 20132.98[48]April 15, 2013[49]2.992.84[47]
315February 24, 20142.65September 22, 20141.721.92

Anyone would admit that the chart clearly shows a decrease of viewers from season one to season two, but it also shows the change of nights from Wednesday to Monday.  Sadly viewers are often calculated based on the ratings which only takes a small portion of the population into account.  This writer for example was chosen within the last year to participate in the Nielsen Ratings (Nielsen).  Sadly for me, Dallas was not on at the time and therefore my rating had no effect for the show.  As for ratings, they are often based as stated before on small numbers.  It should be noted that an online petition currently has 88,568 signatures to support keeping Dallas on air, somewhere (Petition).  Since I have full Internet access, but have not signed the petition yet, I have to wonder how many people without Internet and some with Internet might be willing to sign the petition.  It also should make any network provider wonder.  After all, 88,568 is a small amount of people, but what if all those people were Nielsen Raters during a time Dallas had been on the air?  Would 88,568 little booklets from people turned in equal to millions or more viewers?  Would those ratings have shot through the roof?

Finally, it appears we may never know the answer.  Dallas has now premiered with all three seasons on Netflix, but that doesn't appear to mean it's going to stay there or even start a new season there (Netflix and Dallas).  But to Josh Henderson and the rest of the cast...especially, one of my all time favorites even from The Man From Atlantis, Step-By-Step and others Patrick Duffy, just know that your fans are still out here rooting for you and the Save Dallas hashtag (#SaveDallas) is alive and well as we wait to see you again.


Kelly Kendall said...

We are not likely to stop anytime soon either! #SaveDallas2015

Kelly Kendall said...

We are not likely to stop anytime soon either! #SaveDallas2015

Anonymous said...

#SaveDallas2015! we are here to stay!

sarah4601 said...

The loss of Larry Hagman was sad but Dallas fans know how real life is and as a fan from very beginning 1977 I was glad the show had come back and Mr. Hagman was able to finish out his life and career playing JR. The show was well written and had a huge fan base but TNT did a very piss poor job of marketing and delivering. Dallas needs a network that will do a decent job of marketing and delivering and the cast, crew and fans will do the rest.

Sue wall said...

We will never give up. Please bring Dallas back for another season just to give it a proper ending. It is so disrespectful to just finish it like this