• All would have been well had the grim reaper not decided it was time to call actor Larry Hagman to death’s bosom.
Growing up in the 1980s I was an avid follower of US mega soap operas. I could rattle off the stories and connections of the characters in shows such as Dallas, Dynasty, Falcon Crest and Flamingo Road, as if I was one of the scriptwriters.
If the soapies and their tales had been a school subject, I would have had a distinction. If I had to choose a favourite, Dallas would have pipped Dynasty to the post with about half a percent. I guess you are always partial to your first love and Dallas had been around a fraction longer than Dynasty.
Dallas even had franchising by way of novels telling the backstory of how Ellie Southworth met Jock Ewing and his pal Digger Barnes. Then there was probably my prized possession for its rarity factor in my Nairobi circles - a JR Ewing joke book.
In that pre-PVR era, if you missed an episode and hadn’t had the foresight to set the VHS player to record or ask someone to tape it for you, you would either be doomed to never watch the episode again, or have to be a member of a video library where they might have it somewhere on the shelves.
Looking back now, of course, most of the video library tapes were pirated from the UK where someone connected to the library would tape it off the telly.
The video libraries in Nairobi were so up-to-date with their pirated tapes that when in the mid-eighties I moved to the UK, there was no need to catch up at all. Of course with Netflix, etc, today there probably are no viable video or DVD libraries left.
Anyway after the excess of the eighties came the conservation of the 1990s and these mega soaps died off. The moment had passed, huge shoulder pads were now passé. Some of us however never grew out of our “Dallasty phase” as some called it and whenever a DStv channel had a rerun, I was right there, this time armed with PVR technology to record missed episodes.
Then in 2012 there was a critical mass of us Dallasty fans and finally the series was rebooted. They were doing a good job too, with the mainstays of the old cast, Bobby, Sue Ellen, Cliff Barnes and of course JR returning and all would have been well, had the grim reaper not decided it was time to call actor Larry Hagman to death’s bosom.
When that happened in the third season of the reboot, the show lost its flavour. Dallas without JR was like ugali without sukuma wiki.
In 2017, late to the party as always, Dynasty too was revived, only without Joan Collins or any of the old cast. It started well, paying homage to the original in clever little ways and then the makers lost the plot and by the end of the second season, I had decided I was done with the show as it had become more an unfunny comedy than classic soapie.
The moral of this story is…Actually there isn’t any. Happy Madaraka Day.