Dallas (TV series) in popular culture

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Dallas is an American serial drama/prime time soap opera that revolves around the Ewings, a wealthy Texas family in the oil and cattle-ranching industries. The show debuted in April 1978 as a five-part miniseries on the CBS network, and then was subsequently broadcast for thirteen seasons from April 2, 1978 to May 3, 1991. It has been a frequent reference in popular culture.

In film and television[edit]

  • In the Only Fools and Horses episode "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire", after Del Boy and Rodney have an argument about whether Del should go to Australia and become a millionaire or not, Albert believes that his two nephews are feuding just like the Ewing brothers. Del agrees by comparing himself to Bobby, but wouldn't compare Rodney to J.R.
  • Bill Haverchuck, a main character in the television series Freaks and Geeks mentions watching Dallas in multiple episodes. The show Dallas also plays a significant role, in episode number fourteen, "Dead Dogs and Gym Teachers".
  • In the Hungarian language dub of the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "The Neutral Zone", Sonny Clemonds, a 20th-century Human revived after being cryogenically frozen upon his death in the 1990s, mistakes a viewscreen for a television and asks, "Is Dallas still on the air? I bet they're doing at least the 1000th episode.", replacing the original inquiry about the Atlanta Braves in the belief that this reference would be lost on an audience unfamiliar with baseball.
  • In the 1985 episode of Terry and June, A Swedish businessman wishes to watch a program on Swedish television. Terry foolishly tells Sir Dennis he has a satellite dish (which he doesn't) and Sir Dennis tells him the Swedish businessman will be watching the program at Terry's house. After Terry borrows a satellite from a builders brother and while trying to adjust it so it can receive Swedish television there is an incident which ends with the satellite (attached to scaffolding on wheels) crashing into Sir Dennis' car, dragging the television behind it. They manage to fix the satellite and it turns out the Swedish businessman wanted Dallas which was broadcast on BBC 1.
  • In the mid-1990s, Nike produced some commercials featuring the Dallas Cowboys after Deion Sanders joined the team, using the Dallas theme (as well as notable Cowboy personalities Roger Staubach and owner Jerry Jones) to help promote Deion, the Cowboys, and Nike. In one ad Jones and coach Barry Switzer implore Sanders into a game against the Redskins.
  • In the 2012 Australian TV miniseries Bikie Wars: Brothers in Arms, Comanchero commander Jock Ross and his then-offsider Snoddy Spencer reference the show while planning a bashing in episode 1; Jock Ross is planning a retaliation bashing on a rival gang who fired on a fellow Comanchero and 2 associates, he originally plans the attack for a Wednesday night but then decides not to go on the Wednesday, as Snoddy reminds him that Dallas is playing on television on Wednesday night; they opt to carry out the attack on Tuesday night instead.

In songs/music videos[edit]

  • In his 1987 song "Posse on Broadway", Sir Mix-a-Lot refers to himself with regards to the other local MCs as, "The man they love to hate, the "J. R. Ewing of Seattle".
  • Mentioned in The Message by hip hop DJ Grandmaster Flash as, "My brother's doing bad, stole my mother's TV / Says she watches too much / It's just not healthy / All My Children in the daytime, Dallas at night / Can’t even see the game or the Sugar Ray fight.
  • Swedish group ABBA's final recording "The Day Before You Came" (1982) relates the story of a mundane day in the life of an ordinary woman in the suburbs. The song incorporates the lines "I must have had my dinner watching something on TV / There's not I think a single episode of Dallas that I didn't see." This grammatically challenging lyric may have been partially biographical as it was reported in the UK press that ABBA member Agnetha Faltskog (who performed the song) was dating one of the "Dallas" producers and had been offered a part in the series. She never appeared in the show. When British group Blancmange released their version of the song on single in 1984, the picture sleeve included a picture of a shot JR on a TV screen.
  • Ozzy Osbourne, in 1986 made a music video for the song "The Ultimate Sin" loosely based on Dallas. Ozzy played J.R. Ewing and his company was called Ozzy Oil.
  • In the song "Live Television", the Senegalese singer Youssou N'Dour describes how during a visit to a friend's house he was left alone in the living room waiting for dinner while his hosts all packed in a small room to watch the show on television.
  • On George Strait's debut album "Strait Country" (1981), in the song "Friday Night Fever" the lyrics are: "I love the sound of a jukebox playing, so I sit here while she's staying home, watching Dallas on TV."
  • On Estelle's debut album "The 18th Day" (2004), in the song "1980" the lyrics are: "So then we moved up, I thought I was the Fresh Prince, Dynasty was re-runs and Dallas was faded."
  • Hank Williams, Jr. had a single called "This Ain't Dallas{ on his album Five-O. The song also mentioned the popular soap opera Dynasty.
  • Floyd Cramer had a single released in 1980, called "Dallas", on the Dallas album. On that same album were his renditions of the theme songs from The Waltons, Little House on the Prairie, Taxi, Knot's Landing and others.
  • On Pulp's hit "Bad Cover Version", a relationship the narrator believes is doomed to fail is compared to "the last days of Southfork".
  • The German indie band "Cliff Barnes and the Fear of Winning" is named after Cliff Barnes

Opening title sequence[edit]

  • For the 2007 NHL All-Star Game, CBC's opening was a spoof of Dallas' opening, using the same 1980s font and names like Sidney Crosby, Alexander Ovechkin, and Joe Thornton.[1]
  • In a 2007 episode of America's Got Talent in which the show went to Dallas for auditions, the episode began with the original Dallas theme and presented the three judges as the "stars" in a similar format to the introduction of Dallas.
  • CBS Sports also used a Dallas musical theme for the opening of its 1991 NFL Wild Card playoff between the Cowboys and Bears. It featured the 3 way split screen common to Dallas openings and introduced "characters" Jimmy Johnson, Emmitt Smith, Michael Irvin, Troy Aikman, and Steve Beuerlein. Pat Summerall narrated.
  • In The Young Ones episode Time, the opening sequence and credits parody Dallas. Neil (Nigel Planer) is E.T., a hippy version of J.R. who donates all business assets to "the Brothers of the Soil Commune".
  • In the last two seasons of The Drew Carey Show, one of the opening montages is an homage to the opening of Dallas, containing Cleveland references.
  • The theme song of the show itself has entered pop culture. It has been remixed by Crazy Frog, and used in a sample game in Sun Microsystems' Java MIDP software development kit.
  • An arrangement of the theme from Dallas was used as the score for a short film about vice-presidential nominee, Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin and played at the 2008 Republican National Convention on September 4, 2008.
  • The introductory scene of Nutty Acres in Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts parodies the opening of the series.
  • During the Football World Cup 1994, BBC Sport did a Dallas title sequence for the Brazil v Netherlands match which was played in Dallas and featured the stars of the match in alphabetical order such as bebeto, bergkamp and romario rather than the stars of the show.
  • BBC Northern Ireland also did a Dallas inspired title sequence for their own sports programme Season Ticket, whenever they did a biography about former Northern Ireland international footballer turned FC Dallas coach Steve Morrow

"Who Shot J.R.?"[edit]

  • The "Who Shot J.R.?" episode entered into American popular culture, with t-shirts printed with such references as "Who shot J .R.?" and "I Shot J.R.!" becoming common throughout the summer of 1980. The cliffhanger was also referenced in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air episode "As the Will Turns"; when Will was trying to get fired from a television show via a ridiculous monologue that incorporated elements from numerous TV shows, he says that he's "the guy who shot J.R." (as well as the sheriff).
  • Charlene Tilton hosted an episode of Saturday Night Live (which Larry Hagman had turned down) centered around the "shooting" of Charles Rocket, in which Rocket says, "I'd like to know who the fuck did it." For his use of the profanity, he was fired.
  • During a scene in The Wedding Singer, Frank Sivero, who plays Andy, refuses to leave the living room and says, "Hang on! I'm watching Dallas! I think J.R. might be dead or something! They shot him!"
  • During the mania surrounding "Who shot J.R.?", Happy Days aired an episode in which the Fonz (Henry Winkler) was shot in the behind. Three different versions of the incident come forward, with the one told by Roger (Ted McGinley) being the most accurate. Fonzie, Chachi (Scott Baio), Roger and Potsie (Anson Williams) have gone camping. Fonzie and Chachi are at odds with Roger and Potsie trying to restore order. When Potsie intervenes, Fonzie tells him to mind his own business and shoves him hard enough that he hits the mantelpiece above the fireplace. This dislodges a mounted rifle, which discharges upon hitting the floor. Thus, the shooting is determined to have been an accident.
  • The Jeffersons also had a Dallas parody through a script written by Florence, the maid. The cast was George as G.R. Jenkins, Louise as Lou Weezy Jenkins, Helen as Ellen Wallis, Tom as Tim Wallis, Lionel as Leon Jenkins, and Jenny as Jannice Wallis Jenkins. There is even a scene in which G.R. is shot but fakes his coma to draw out the assailant—Florence as Flossie.
  • In the Irish sitcom Father Ted, one of the locals (Tom) on Craggy Island constantly wears a shirt that reads "I Shot J.R." and quotes repeatedly to the local Priest, "I killed a man Father".
  • The Simpsons episode "Who Shot Mr. Burns?" parodies "Who shot J.R.?" A deleted scene in "Bart vs. Australia" also includes a reference when one of the courtmembers shouts, "Don't tell us who shot J.R.!" whilst covering his ears. In another episode, I Married Marge, Homer is briefly seen wearing a shirt saying "I shot J.R.".
  • Desperate Housewives paid homage to this storyline in Season 7's midseason cliffhanger. As main antagonist Paul Young was shot, just about everyone on Wisteria Lane ended up being suspects.[2]
  • The Friends episode "The One with Phoebe's Rats" shows Chandler watching the show during a period of his unemployment. After hearing the gunshot he exclaims: "Who shot J.R.?" After which he says: "I have got to get a job..."

Season 9 (the "Dream Season")[edit]

  • In the Family Guy episode "Da Boom" (1999), the Y2K virus changes civilization for the worse. In a parody of "Blast from the Past" episode climax from 1986, Victoria Principal and Patrick Duffy reprise their roles as Pam and Bobby respectively in a live-action sequence at the end of the episode, when Pam wakes up and tells Bobby, who is in the shower, that she just dreamt about the strangest episode of Family Guy. Bobby pauses, then asks, "What's Family Guy?"[3]
  • Introducing Saturday Night Live's 1986–1987 season, Madonna, who hosted the first episode of the dismally rated 1985–1986 season, read a statement from NBC that claimed the previous season of SNL was "all a dream, a horrible, horrible dream."
  • During the episode of Night Court entitled "Her Honor: Part 2", Judge Harold T. Stone is removed from the bench. Christine Sullivan, the Public Defender, tries to persuade him to fight for his job, he retorts with: "Like What? Like it turns out I'm on Dallas and I've been dreaming all of this!?"[4]
  • The show Reno 911! sometimes references Dallas by having a character dream some event that happened on a previous episode, notably at the end of the season.
  • The final episode of Newhart revealed the entire series was Bob Hartley's (the character that Bob Newhart played on The Bob Newhart Show) dream.
  • In 2000, Denise van Outen returned to present the British morning television show The Big Breakfast, which she had left previously in 1998. To open the show, van Outen and co-host Johnny Vaughan parodied the Dallas shower scene.
  • Whie parodying the JR plot line The Simpsons included a hint to this incident with Smithers dreaming Mr Burns was not really shot and is still in the shower. In the episode 'Pygmalion' it is alluded to when Mo plans revenge at being written out of a show but discovers too late that his character was only meant to die in a dream.

References[edit]