Dallas-A House Divided

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I think it is safe to say that Dallas was one if not ‘the’ biggest TV show ever to be aired, probably even bigger than “Game of Thrones” and in a way the shows have similarities even though they are set in completely different settings.

I know they tried to revive ‘Dallas’ a few years ago but every knew it wasn’t going to work.

The episode called “A House Divided” which first aired on March 21 1980 will probably mean nothing to most of you, but if I say it’s the one where JR got shot every one will know.

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“A House Divided” served as both an introduction to the now common practice of season-ending cliffhangers and the beginning of an eight-month international media frenzy.[11] International betting offices created a set of odds for the possible suspects: “Dusty Farlow (J. R.’s wife Sue Ellen’s lover, who disappeared after a plane crash) was the 6 to 4 favorite, followed by Vaughn Leland (a banker J. R. swindled) and Kristin Shepard (J. R.’s mistress) at 4 to 1. Sue Ellen herself was a long shot at 25 to 1, as is J.R.’s long- suffering mom, Miss Ellie.

 

“Who Shot J.R.?” entered the national lexicon, becoming a popular T-shirt slogan, and heightening anticipation of the soap’s third season, which was to come in the fall. Much to the dismay of Dallas fans, the premiere was delayed because of a Screen Actors Guild strike. When it finally aired, the episode revealing the shooter became one of television’s most-watched shows, with an audience of 83 million people, and helped put Dallas into greater worldwide circulation.

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++++ Spoiler Alert+++++

I know it is probably overkill to indicate a spoiler alert at this stage but one can never be too careful.

JR was shot by an Irish man who lives on Craggy Island in the Parish of Father Ted.He confessed to the crime by wearing a Tee Shirt admitting he had done it.

JR.

That was a joke of course, but that just indicates the cultural significance of the shooting of JR, literally the whole world spoke about it.

The real perpetrator was Kristin Shepard, JR’s mistress and sister in law, played by Bing Crosby’s daughter

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The shooting of JR wasn’t the only big cliffhanger of course, who could forget Bobby Ewings’s shower scene, a resurrection if there ever was one.

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Was the 2007,Writers Guild of America strike, the best thing ever to happen to TV?

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The WGAE and WGAW labor unions represent film, television, and radio writers working in the United States. All 12,000 screenwriters and TV writers in the guild were part of the strike which started on November 5, 2007, and concluded on February 12, 2008.

I think this was one of the best things ever to happen to TV. It is because of this the market suddenly opened up for TV shows which usually would not be broadcast outside of their point of origin.

Especially the Scandinavian dramas attracted a lot of interest.

It kinda started of with Wallander.

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Well I said kinda. It wasn’t the original series that first got broadcast but the BBC version starring Kenneth Branagh.

The original Swedish show did follow shortly afterwards though,it was much grittier then the watered down version of the BBC.

Even though this was a well written and compelling show to watch it was nothing compared to what the Danes produced. Forbrydelsen -aka- the Killing.

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The series is set in Copenhagen and revolves around Detective Inspector Sarah Lund (Sofie Gråbøl). Each series follows a murder case day-by-day. Each fifty-minute episode covers twenty-four hours of the investigation(who can’t remember that sweater)

Although it was slow at the start it was still perfectly paced.

Also from Denmark was  the political drama,Borgen.

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I have to admit I actually never got the chance to get to see it.

The show was  created by Adam Price. It tells how Birgitte Nyborg, a politician, becomes the first female Prime Minister of Denmark against all the odds. Borgen is the informal name of Christiansborg Palace and is where the three branches of Danish government reside: the Parliament, the Prime Minister’s Office, and the Supreme Court.

Then what I consider the crown of Scandinavian dramas,Bron/Broen, or the Bridge in English.

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The Bridge (Danish: Broen; Swedish: Bron) is a Scandinavian crime television series created and written by Hans Rosenfeldt. A joint creative and financed production between Sweden’s Sveriges Television and Denmark’s DR, it has been shown in over 100 countries and unlike the slow start from Forbrydelsen, this one starts with a bang.

A body found on the bridge connecting Denmark to Sweden,on the middle of the border. It sets the scene for a very dark and gritty drama with many unsuspected but realistic twists.

Bron/Broen was first broadcast in 2011 a few years after the strike, but I do think if the strike hadn’t happened none of these shows would have made it out of Scandinavia, and shows like Deutschland 83 would probably only have been shown in Germany(perhaps also the low countries)

When I heard threats of a new Hollywood screenwriters strike I was actually pleased.Because I do believe the 2007 strike was the best thing that happened for TV in decades.

Finishing with the theme song of Bron/Broen.

 

A great script does matter

I am a great fan of TV Dramas and Movies and despite a lot of critics saying that the last few years the quality has gone down, I believe that this isn’t really the case.

Particularly the TV Shows have really improved, I think it was shows like the Sopranos that really raised the bar.

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TV Channels and production companies like HBO, Showtime and AMC have really invigorated the TV landscape, throw in the mix Netflix and Amazon Prime and the online entertainment is complete. If it wasn’t for these companies who basically gave a cart blanch to TV Show makers we would have never had show like Breaking Bad, The Walking Dead and their spin off Better Call Saul and Fear the Walking Dead

Shows like Ray Donovan, House of Cards,Bosch,Homeland and Game of Thrones would have never been aired, especially Game of Thrones with an often graphic and even pornographic content.

So on TV front I think the quality has gone up dramatically, but of course this is all a matter of taste. The one thing these shows have in common they are all character driven and it is evident that a lot of time is spend on the scripts.

Take Game of Thrones for example, although some of the graphic scenes are really ‘in your face’ it doesn’t take away from the character, Peter Dinklage who plays  his character Tyrion Lannister  so convincing that you don’t even notice his small stature.

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However unfortunately there are shows who started so promising but really failed to maintain the initial strong story lines.

Lost, took the world by a storm but at the end it ended in a damp squib. It really felt like the producers wanted to drag it out to get as much money as possible from the show  at the cost of a good script. They should have kept to the originally planned 3 seasons.

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Another prime example is Heroes. It started of great it had everything one could want in a show about heroes and villains, until season 3 that is where they came up with this ridiculous story line based in Cork,Ireland with the worse Irish accents I ever heard. But I could get over the accents, the worse thing here was they showed heavily armed security guards in a warehouse,not even the Police have guns in Ireland. That was just lazy script writing.

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One show that kept me interested until the very last episode was True Blood, unfortunately after all the hard work they had put in , it seemed that they had just given up at the very end. I have never have been more disappointed by a finale then with True Blood it was the mother of all anti-climaxes.

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By no stretch of the imagination am I a fan of the Irish national broadcaster RTE, but they did produce one of the most realistic and gritty crime drama’s even for international standards.

When I first heard of Love/Hate I had closed my mind to it, solely because of the fact it was made by RTE, but boy was I wrong. It is one of my all time favorites on par with The Sopranos ,Ray Donovan and Breaking Bad.

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Funny enough it was our Scandinavian brethren who produced some of the finest pieces of Crime drama this century, although subtitled the characters were so strong that you’d nearly forget they were talking Danish and Swedish. I am of course talking about The Killing(Forbrydelsen), the Bridge(Bron/Broen) and Wallander(well that is still Wallander in Swedish). I wasn’t to impressed with the BBC version with Kenneth Branagh.

When it comes to TV Shows I do tend to have a preference to Police Drama’s as a kid I grew up watching the German cop shows Derrick and Tatort, the latter one meaning Crime Scene, so basically it was CSI before ‘the’ CSI.

There might be more of a case when it comes to the Big screen to say the quality of movies just isn’t what it used to be and a lot of it is because of dodgy CGI, but having that said some of my all time favorite movies were made the last 16 years or so. Gladiator,The Lord of the Rings Trilogy,The Dark Knight trilogy, Pan’s Labyrinth and I am Legend, to name but a few. Again all these movies even though they were jam packed with special effects they were still character driven and a lot of attention was given to the script.But also movies like Gran Torino and Gone baby Gone are masterpieces.

I do get over some minor discrepancies in scripts, like in the recent ‘Captain America-Civil War’ where they mix up one German word, although it is annoying for a linguist like me, it didn’t take away the overall enjoyment of the movie.

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However when they mess up a whole scene by having a Finnish guy speak German as if it was Finnish is just lazy and unforgivable , this was the case in Swordfish,maybe that’s why Halle Berry took her top off to distract from the bad and lazy script.

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All in all as a viewer I think we are spoiled for choice in both TV and Cinema features.