Weekend June 16, 2012
1980, All Over Again
This ain't Dallas and this ain't Dynasty.
This is a real-life two job working family.
And I ain't J.R. You ain't Suellen
We're just a man and a woman holding things together.
Now we all like to watch those shows and we all like to dream.
You know J.R. is making deals and Alexis is making steam.
Joan and Linda, Victoria and Morgan they're a sight to see.
My ole lady said, "I know what you're thinkin'"
I said "Now honey, don'tcha know all of that is on TV.
Hank Williams Jr, This Ain’t Dallas
Those lyrics explain why now is the perfect retro-social mood stage for the return of the television series, Dallas. For younger readers, let’s explain how Texas today (1999-2012) has experienced events quite similar to 1969-1980.
The price of oil in 1969 was at most $3 a barrel, and often less than that depending on the grade of the crude. Natural gas was just about free for asking. It was common to see a gas flare with energy literally going up in smoke. All that changed on October 16, 1973.
The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries OPEC raised the price of oil by 70% to $5.11 a barrel. OPEC stated this was in retaliation for the US Support of Israel. President Nixon requested more aid for Israel. OPEC then ceased shipping oil and the Embargo of 1973 began. The lack of supply quickly moved the price to $12.
Diplomacy prevailed and the embargo ended in March of 1974. Meanwhile the US abandoned the gold standard and the stock market sank 50% from 1973 into year -end 1974. Oil prices fell back to single digits. A second embargo in 1979 boosted crude prices to double digits. Within two years it would peak at $36.
This caused lots of economic problems for the USA but not for Texas. As a sort of min-OPEC itself, Texas business boomed and the oil fields prospered. The First National Bank of Midland added ten stories to its downtown building amid the second embargo of 1979, made loans to anyone who asked, and then went bust a few years later.
Television responded with larger than life characters .Larry Hagman fell into the role of a lifetime as J R Ewing, the scion of Ewing Oil. The conniving JR had an opposite in his ethical brother Bobby. Meanwhile the original patriarch, Jock Ewing and Miss Ellie tried to keep peace in the family.
The show resonated perfectly with the times. No one lived the ‘bigger than Dallas’ Texas lifestyle in a more grand fashion than the characters on Dallas. The women modeled fabulous gowns and jewelry, the ever present Mercedes was always at ready, and as in any great soap opera, no one really seemed to have to go to work.
Dallas had a rival show in Dynasty. Featuring Linda Evans, John Forsythe, and Joan Collins as a sort of JR counterpart, it raised the ante even further on the luxurious lifestyle of the rich and famous.
Now consider the parallel. The price of oil in 1999 had fallen to $12. In three months several thousand simply left the Permian Basin in search of jobs elsewhere. By July, 2008 however, those ‘evil speculators’ as politicians call them, had raised the price of crude to a level J R would love at $145. By December, 2008 it had crashed to $35. Now three short years later, oil crested at $110 and today sits at $82.
The Eighteen-year period of 1966-1984 is the counter part to 2000-2018. Ads for expensive watches abound in Texas Monthly and the Wall Street Journal. The storied brands of Aston Martin and Bentley now sell thousands of cars world wide, unheard of in prior eras of excess. Coach handbags starting at $1,600 are in stock at local department stores across Texas. The MacMansion era returns with multiple pages of Distinctive Properties in the Wall Street Journal. Even Donald Trump is enjoying a comeback.
So the return of Dallas should reverberate well with a whole new generation. Three original cast members return to mentor their offspring as Ewing Oil springs to life once again. The pace is faster and judging by the trailers, quite a bit racier. Catch up on the background at http;//tntnewsroom.com/dallas-recap.
Set your Breitling Navitimer Cosmonaute for Wednesday nights at 8:00 PM CST. Word has it the new Dallas will be, a gusher of entertainment.
Dennis Elam blogs at www.themarketperspective.com