Dispatches From The Couch: DALLAS Edition

Surely, I can’t be the only fan of classic primetime soaps who had mixed emotions regarding last week’s news that KNOTS LANDING super couple Val and Gary would visit his DALLAS-based kin during Season 2 of the relaunched Texas-based sudser?  
My first reaction was, of course, a renewed hope that this might mean TNT — which has had great success with its return to Southfork — will be revisiting Seaview Circle (the California cul de sac which served as the focal point for KNOTS) in the near future. Although never the mega hit or cultural touchstone that DALLAS became, it’s worth noting that the spinoff lasted just as many seasons (14) and ran only 13 fewer episodes (with 344 under its belt versus 357 tucked under JR’s Stetson).
My second,however, was — and this is where I have to assume I wasn’t alone — to think, “How the heck are they gonna pull that off?”
For the uninformed, a brief history lesson.
Although DALLAS hit the airwaves two years before its sibling, KNOTS was actually created first. But when CBS wanted something a bit glitzier than the suburbs-set sudser, the creators went back to the drawing board and came up with the squabbling Ewing brothers. Although Bobby and JR took centerstage when DALLAS debuted, we’d later meet Gary, their black sheep brother. (Gary and his ex-wife, Val, had a daughter, Lucy, who’d been stolen by JR and raised on Southfork. It would later be revealed that Lucy’s Season 1 lover, Ray, was actually Gary’s half-sibling… making him her uncle!)
But as usual, I digress.So let’s skip forward to where things get sticky regarding this recently announced visit from Gary and Val.
You may recall that in 1985, Patrick Duffy’s decision to leave DALLAS led the show to kill off his alter ego, Bobby, who was rundown by his obsessed former sister-in-law, Katherine. The Ewing clan gathered around his bedside and, as the season drew to a close, Bobby begged his clan to be good to one another and passed away. Out in California, grief drove Gary off the deep end, and when Val gave birth to twins, she named one of them Bobby in memory of her sainted brother-in-law.
Except, see, Bobby never really died.
The 1985-86 season of DALLAS proved so disastrous that a major re-haul was in order. How to fix things? Why, by having the entire season turn out to be a dream! In one of the most famous (perhaps infamous?) cliffhangers of all time, Bobby’s widow, Pam, awoke one morning to find her supposedly-dead hubby soaping himself up in the shower. When the series returned in the fall, it was explained that Pam had dreamed Bobby’s death… and everything that had taken place during the course of the previous season.
Out in California, however, nobody bothered to tell Gary and Val.
Well, more accurately, KNOTS execs, not exactly pleased to find out that they’d built story lines around something that turned out to be a dream, never acknowledged Bobby’s resurrection. Although prior to this, the shows had done numerous crossover episodes (after all, several characters were related), KNOTS never again acknowledged their connection to the Texas Ewings.
Until now.
Should TNT decide to turn Gary and Val’s visit into an opportunity to reintroduce us to the entire cul de sac clan (including their son, Bobby, and his twin sister, Betsy, who should by now be the perfect age for stirring up all kinds of trouble), I’ll gladly look the other way and forgive the whole “whoops, my dead brother isn’t actually dead” thing.
But like other fans who preferred the residents of Seaview Circle to their Texas brethren, I’ll never really, truly forget.
Richard M. Simms is the executive editor of Soaps In Depth magazine and considers himself a Seaview Circle resident by proxy.

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  • I would say just to chalk it up to soap “realism” and enjoy what we can get from having Gary and Val visit Southfork. Rather have that than not have them at all!

  • Devin McMusters

    I’d walk barefoot on a mile of broken glass just for one second with Joan Van Ark. I really like Dallas, but I loved Knots.