Thursday, June 21, 2012

this week's newspaper column, about bad TV and my childhood

Editor's note: I couldn't help but watch the reboot of "Dallas" on TNT, and I couldn't help but write about the experience as part of my weekly column for the St. Clair Times. The show may not last, so I'm getting it out there while I can. As always, feel free to comment here or on Twitter.
Return of ‘Dallas’ is return to my roots

Last week I made a rather controversial decision. In our house, anyway.

I told my wife I planned to record the pilot episode of “Dallas” on TNT, and then watch it. With complete seriousness on my face.

Needless to say, she reacted as though I told her I intended to join a commune and attempt to infiltrate the government.

“Wait — why would you do that?” she asked.

It’s a fair question. Between “Grey’s Anatomy” and whatever that haunted house show in the fall was (note: It was “American Horror Story”), I’ve pretty much filled up my dance card when it comes to trash TV.

The explanation, for me, was simple.

“I have a heritage to uphold.”

It is true, believe it or not. When I was a baby, my parents lived in a small house near the Dale-Coffee County line, technically in Daleville but probably more closely associated with Enterprise (at least by me).

So each Friday night was the same: Dad’s childhood best friend Danny, along with his wife, Becky, would come to the house, for dinner and CBS’ “Dallas.” According to Mom, sometimes the proceedings involved Monopoly, as well.

(Note: I had no idea, until I started doing a little research for this column, that “Dallas” ran until 1991. That’s incredible. Mom and Dad moved away from Enterprise in 1984.)

It is astounding, really, how many people’s lives are intertwined with their television shows. Dad and his mother used to set aside an hour at midday for “As the World Turns.” I have memories of “Days of Our Lives” during afternoon naps.

So that was why I felt an obligation to pay attention to the reboot of “Dallas,” no matter how ridiculous it might seem. And by the way, it is pretty absurd: everyone dresses in garish clothing, everyone communicates almost exclusively in meaningful glances and everyone speaks to everyone else with hissing condescension.

Needless to say, I loved it. I think my wife even paid attention for a few minutes.

For the record, my parents are back in on the show, as well. They recently sold the house where they were living back in those days. They’re both retirement age now; one of them is already there, in fact.

Even so, Mom called me Wednesday night to say that the two of them — along with Danny and Becky, who live not far away from their house now — were preparing to watch the show.

“You could’ve come down for the night,” she said. “But we would’ve put you in the baby bed, just for posterity’s sake.”

Seems I had no choice but to watch this.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It's always fun to read about real life connections to TV.

Even with its decline into awfulness, I am only still watching The Young and The Restless because I'm a third generation viewer. My maternal grandmother watched it. My mom watches it. It's part of my heritage.

I never knew my paternal grandfather (he died shortly before I was born), but from the stories I've heard about him, he was hardcore about watching Dallas to the point that he would instruct people not to call their house when it was airing.

Guess that's where I get it from...

Great post! Thanks for sharing!