Dallas and Knots Landing

Dallas (1978-1991)
Knots Landing (1979-1993)
Type: Spin Off

   Wow, a primetime soap opera so successful that it not only jumpstarts the entire genre but also spawns a successful spin off that actually runs for just as long as the original series! That's nothing to sneeze at. No other soap franchise can boast those stats. Only Dallas and its spin off Knots Landing.

   It all started with Dallas. Dallas told the story of the oil baron Ewing family. Jock was the tough old man of the family and Miss Ellie his kindly wife. But forget them, they weren't where the intrigue and excitement was. That came from there sons.

   Larry Hagman's character J.R. Ewing was the oldest son, the dirty dealing head of the family business Ewing Oil who was determined to stay the boss. Balancing out bad guy J.R. was the family's good and decent youngest son Bobby Ewing, play by Patrick Duffy. A lot of the conflict in the show came from these polar opposites butting heads. There was also a third son named Gary. But with J.R. being so low down on this dramatic teeter totter and Bobby being so high up and goody goody on the other end, there was only one place left for Gary. He couldn't be all morally high or low down. He was stuck sitting right in the middle, not good, not bad but instead filling the role of the unstable lush! Bad gig. "Hey, you run the company J.R., you be the heroic guy the women love Bobby. I think I'll just sit here knocking back ripple and working on that ulcer and weeping."

   Well, for his own mental stability and in the hopes of spawning another hit soap, Gary left Dallas for the suburbs of Los Angeles settling with his wife Valene in the housing community of Knots Landing. And that sums up Knots Landing: bringing soap romance and intrigue to the suburbs and middle class. Of course there was still just as much bed hopping and back stabbing as with the big boys back on Dallas.

   Even though the shows were separate, occasionally they would crossover. Gary's daughter Lucy stayed in Dallas so that connected the shows. Here's a weird plot mistake. Lucy had an affair with handyman Ray Krebbs early on and then later Ray was revealed to be a half brother to J.R., Gary and Bobby. She banged her uncle! The earlier affair was conveniently ignored.

   Now both these shows had labyrinthian plots so there is no point into getting into any further specifics... except for one interesting plot quirk the shows being connected caused.

   At the end of the 1984-1985 season of Dallas, Bobby Ewing was killed off when actor Patrick Duffy quit the show. This was such a huge event that of course its impact was felt on both shows. Bobby was Gary's brother after all. In the 1985-1986 season, there was even a baby born on Knots Landing that was named for the dearly departed Bobby. All well and good... until the end of that season.

   See, Dallas started to really stink up the joint once Bobby was gone. It just wasn't the same. So the folks on Dallas begged and pleaded to get Patrick Duffy to come back. And he did! At the end of the 1985-1986 season, the final scene had Bobby's wife Pam waking up, walking into the bathroom and finding Bobby alive and well taking a shower! What the? At the start of the next season it was revealed that the entire previous season had all been Pam's dream! Bobby had not really been killed. Yep, it was a big cop-out jip!

   Seeing the problem here though? Knots Landing was not about to throw away an entire season too just because Dallas screwed up. So now they had a kid named after a dead guy who wasn't dead and they had a whole extra year in their timeline that Dallas didn't. I kinda wonder what was up with Dallas's time frame after the dream season. Was the show a year behind actual time? Did the characters just not have that year? I've heard of a leap year but that's nuts! Comas all around then?

   As a closing note, I must say if I was Gary I'dve left town too. Forget the pressure of being the middle kid with a power hungry older brother and a goody two shoes younger brother. I don't think I could stand the pressure of having an older brother who was a former astronaut with his own genie and a younger brother who was The Man from Atlantis with webbed feet and the ability to breath under water. Geesh, how do ya live up to that kinda crap?

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