Some shows sell themselves, and certainly TNT’s revamp of the iconic primetime sudser DALLAS would seem to be one of them. But whoever got paid big bucks to develop the advertising campaign that kicks off Monday in New York City’s Time Square should be fired, pronto.
According to an article in the New York Times, the billboards will feature a 46-foot-tall shower curtain featuring the shadow of a man wearing a stetson and the words “They’re back.” The paper goes on to explain that on April 2, “the curtain parts to reveal the cast of the new version.” The tag line on the new billboards will read, “They’re back. And no, you’re not dreaming.”
Call me crazy, but why in the world would anyone want to create not one but two billboards which are specifically designed to invoke memories of one of the most infamous (and not in a good way) twists in primetime history?
For those too young to remember, the eighth season of the original DALLAS — airing during the 1985-’86 season — might best be described as… well, a complete and total fiasco. Original cast member Patrick Ewing had opted to leave at the end of the previous season, which had ended with his character, the beloved Bobby Ewing, being run down and killed. Without moral lynchpin Bobby, the show seemed to spin out of control with Pam off exploring emerald mines, Ray and Donna mooning over handicapped children and a silly plot in which Barbara Carrera’s Angelica plotted to assassinate a guy who happened to look exactly like… oh, who cares. Suffice it to say, it was a mess.
In attempt to set things right, the show ended with a shocking cliffhanger in which Pam, who’d just married mustachioed millionaire Mark, walked into the bathroom, pulled aside the shower curtain… and found supposed-dead Bobby standing there! All summer, folks speculated as to what the heck was going on only to find out when the new season began in the fall that not only was Bobby alive, but the whole previous season had been a dream.
That’s right, a dream.
And now, as TNT sinks what is no doubt a small fortune into relaunching the famous series this summer, someone has decided that the best way to advertise its return is by reminding America that when the show was bad, it was really, really, really bad.
Which would be sort of like building an entire ad campaign for Coke around that whole “New Coke” incident we’d all just as soon forget.
Richard M. Simms is the executive editor of Soaps In Depth magazine and the author of Crimes against Civility.