Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Best Season of the Classic DALLAS

Best Season of Dallas Ever!

Dallas: The Fourth Season

The fourth year of Dallas roared to a start by slowly winding up the 'Who Shot JR' story arc then jumped along from one tawdry storyline to another until a body was found floating in the pool at the end of the season. Like a trashy novel you take on vacation, with plotlines like these TV's most popular drama was the first post-modern nighttime soap opera, the show transcended the seventies to become a genuine eighties sensation.

Dallas re-defined network drama in 1980-81 when this fourth season aired. The stuck-in-the-'70's fashions and idealized apartments decorated in brown toned furniture and foil wallpaper provide a lurid backdrop for the wanton, drunken behavior that was elevated to high art here; on Dallas infidelity was a valiant pursuit.

Besides JR's sneaky moves (Larry Hagman's performance is a joy to behold) season four follows a sodden Sue Ellen chasing after her 'dead' lover Dusty, trashy Afton sleeping her way to local nightclub stardom, Lucy's luckless marriage to an uptight med student who rejects her family's fortune (idiot), Pam's pathetic attempts to hold her sham of a marriage together, Cliff Barnes' clownish attempts to upstage JR, and other assorted mayhem.

Its comedia-del-art with laughs from start to finish, including episode four - Who Done It? - which became the most-watched TV program of all time when it aired.

Dallas with Barbara Bel Geddes

For me family matriarch Miss Ellie, played by the marvelous actress Barbara Bel Geddes, gave Dallas its heart, along with the legendary Jim Davis, who was sadly dying of cancer while this season was shot. Davis grew more noticeably frail as the year progressed but he still retained that powerful presence that made him one of the motion picture western genre's finest actors. He passed away shortly before the end of this season.

Here are some highlights from later years:

If you only watch one season of Dallas on DVD I suggest this would be it. On the DVD set, as an extra, you get the 2-hour special 'Dallas Reunion: The Return to Southfork', which aired on CBS in November 2004 and included most of the original cast. This is one fantastic trashy trip back to the year 1980!

Dallas with Lucy Ewing and her husband Mitch
Lucy finds true love and eternal happiness in season 4 when she marries that twit Mitch. (Yeah, right!)

Match Game

Can you forgive me for being a fan of cheesy TV? You'll have to, I'm unabashed about it. Summertime weather like we're enjoying now makes me think of watching Match Game.

The 1970s version of Match Game (1973-1979 on CBS daytime) was based on The Match Game airing on NBC from 1962-1969; both shows were hosted by Gene Rayburn. The original series was a low key program, the seventies version got raucous and raunchy, at least by the daytime TV standards of the 1970s.

Revived in 1973, Match Game quickly became the number-one rated daytime show for the next several years. The premise: six celebrities answered salacious questions posed by Gene Rayburn, who was nominated for five Daytime Emmy awards during the series' run.

On the original series there were two panels each with one celebrity and 2 audience members; on the newer version two contestants compete with 6 celebrities answering the questions.

Match Game 1974 Regular panelists included Charles Nelson Reilly, Richard Dawson, Brett Somers, Fannie Flagg and Betty White with the other three slots occupied by random visiting stars like Jo Ann Pflug, Connie Stevens, Scoey Mitchell, Elaine Joyce, and Dick Martin.

Every January, the title changed to reflect the new year - all the way up to Match Game '79. There was also Match Game PM, new episodes that ran in syndication from 1975 -1982 with the same cast. The announcer was Johnny Olson.

Brett Somers / Match Game 74An entire week's worth of shows (6 in all) were taped in one day. A buffet with alcohol was served between shows; Brett Somers preferred sipping vodka and soda between shots. By the final taping, the cast would get pretty buzzed, including Gene!

Brett and Charles Nelson Reilly went from being second bananas on TV shows to household names with their popularity on Match Game. Betty White and Fannie Flagg were also given revived careers thanks in part to this daytime hit.

Gene Rayburn passed away on November 29, 1999. Brett Somers and Charles Nelson Reilly both died in 2007, she was 83 and he was 76.