When I read about Larry Hagman’s death the other day it was sad. He has brought so much fun into the world with his work on TV, especially with Dallas; but also I Dream of Jeannie. They showed a clip of Jeannie the other day, it was funny hearing Barbara Eden call him Master. I dont think that would fly in today’s politically correct world, a woman calling a man her master. But it was fun seeing that clip too; the vivid colors, the 60s hair. I watched that show a lot in syndication, it was on in the afternoons I think. It was really Dallas that Larry Hagman excelled at. I cant tell you the number of hours of entertainment he brought me on that show, and I know many people feel the same way.
I came to watch Dallas in a way thats different from most people; I was too young when it started to watch or probably to understand what was going on. I started with watching an episode of Knots Landing. I happened to be flipping through the channels (back when there werent very many) and I put Knots on. That episode blew me away, literally. It was the episode where Sid was in the hospital and wanted to have surgery, Karen didnt want him to but he was insistent on having it. It was somewhat dramatic but I knew from many years of TV he would be fine. Then a scene came on, you could see from a distance, the doctor telling Karen and the 3 kids the results of the surgery. The audience couldnt hear what was being said, but you could tell Sid had died. I had never seen that before, a main character being killed off. Plus the way they did it, without words, was over the top fabulous. Knots was a spin off of Dallas but was actually written before Dallas was. The producers at CBS didnt want a show about middle class people like Knots, they wanted a show about rich oil Texans. Most people dont know that Dallas was originally supposed to be all about Pam and Bobby. Rich boy marries poor girl and what would ensue from that situation. Bobby was actually supposed to die after the first season and Pam was to be the rich woman butting heads with the much richer Ewings.
But something unexpected happened. The audience fell in love with JR and Sue Ellen. In the first episode Sue Ellen had one line, something like, please pass the sugar. But it was Larry’s depth that made that show and made countless imitators. He wasnt your typical one dimensional villain, he turned JR into a complex character. You could see and feel how much he wanted his father’s approval. But Jock, who was also great, was a tough man not used to giving out compliments or love. JR also always respected and wanted to please Mama, Miss Ellie. It was genius the way JR would be ruthless in business, screwing over his closest allies but yet he was incredibly vulnerable to his parents. And was motivated by seeking their approval. Linda Gray was also fantastic as Sue Ellen. She and JR were a perfect match. Their fights, their relationship was so fun to watch, JR being so evil, Sue Ellen’s eyes could tell an entire story without a word spoken. I do have to thank Larry for bringing fun on TV. Dallas was a must watch show for many years. The ‘Who shot JR’ was one of the most watched episodes in history. When they spun off Knots Landing it was JR’s brother Gary who was the main character. Knots had many many great moments; Abby being another fun character.
Dallas started in 1978 and went to 1991. Dallas, Knots, Dynasty were all staples of 80s must watch TV. All of this was possible because of Larry Hagman and his ability to take a character and make him so interesting you just had to find out what was going to happen next.
Larry, you will be missed and you brought many hours of happiness to many people around the world.