‘Dallas’: Show Switched Airing Days Due to Ewing Family Gripping Audiences

by Atlanta Northcutt

How do you recognize the fact a show is so popular it has to air during a more popular time than originally scheduled? Well, I guess you ask the folks of the hit TV soap opera “Dallas.”

About the Iconic TV Soap Opera

“Dallas” proved its popularity during the CBS soap opera’s total of 14 seasons, airing between April 1978 through May 1991. The show put Texas on the map for the majority of Americans.

The soap focuses on the Ewing family as they live on the fictional South Fork Ranch which resides in the uppity county of Braddock. Of course, the ranch is located right outside of Dallas, TX.

The thesis of the show focuses on a wealthy and prominent family. Three generations of millionaires live in one extravagant home that viewers excitedly entered through their TV screens each week.

As the matriarch and patriarch of the family, “Jock” and Miss Ellie Ewing have three sons together. J.R. is the oldest and most problematic of the bunch. Gary is the middle child, and Bobby is the youngest.

The storyline becomes as messy as their independently owned oil company. An in-depth look into the family members’ romantic endeavors and the rival against fellow oil tycoons, the Barnes, entranced viewers.

However, what truly captivated people is the dysfunction, anger, love, sex, wealth, and, of course, the drama the characters created.

And the show definitely didn’t lack drama. Storylines included insane asylums, car accidents, affairs, illegitimate children, gunfights, fistfights, catfights, lies, drinking problems, and much more.

J.R. Ewing: The Face of “Dallas”

As both a protagonist and antagonist, J.R., played by Larry Hagman, is summed up in one of his infamous lines: “All that matters is winning.”

An ongoing theme on “Dallas” is the feud between Bobby and older brother J.R. The two don’t show much brotherly love.

Bobby is more of a decent and caring person. However, J.R. is the exact opposite of his youngest brother resulting in quarrels between the two.

Taking a line from Shakespeare, himself, the youngest son, Bobby, falls in love with a girl from the Barnes family. However, the two families were sworn enemies. This infuriates J.R. and is a constant battle among the brothers, similar to the Bible’s Cain and Abel.

Needless to say, J.R. stole the show with his deviant, conniving ways, providing the most drama for viewers. When you combine that with his unhappy marriage, affairs, drinking, and power-hungry actions, he is the actual focus. This resulted in his character being the only one to appear in all of the show’s episodes.

New Primetime Schedule & the Soap Opera’s Influence

The soap became such a hit it was moved from its original time-slot on late Sunday night. Once being turned into an official series, the show was moved to Friday nights where it remained until its final episode in 1991. Airing times rotated between 9 p.m. and 10 p.m. after acquiring the Friday night episodes.

Known for its infamous cliffhangers, the 1980 episode “Who Done It” became the second highest-rated primetime episode. It only fell behind the finale of M*A*S*H. J.R. was shot, and everyone wanted to know who pulled the trigger.

The final episode “Conundrum” was watched by 33 million viewers. Due to this fact, the episode became the country’s 14th most-watched TV series finale.

The series earned four Emmy awards and led to several spinoffs. Most importantly, “Dallas” has had an undeniably massive influence on primetime TV and American pop culture.