Lucie Wolner - Translated from the French by Pamela - 2012-10-12
In the 80s, Dallas was one of the first soap operas to hit the telly during prime time. The saga of the Ewings, a family built on big bucks and big oil, was invited into every home. Today you can visit Southfork Ranch, the farm in Parker - near Dallas, Texas - where the drama was filmed. Nostalgia guaranteed. As for the series, it’s making a major come-back.
They’re back on the screen: J.R.’s predatory smile, Bobby’s kindly, shining eyes and beautiful Sue Ellen, the alcohol-ravaged Miss Texas. In the new Dallas, already airing in the US, the UK (Channel Five) and several European countries, the Ewing family hasn’t changed. Nor have its three leading actors – give or take a few wrinkles and a score of years. But now, the legendary rivalry of the two brothers has been passed down to their children who have nothing in common when it comes to managing the family estate. J.R.’s son wants to drill for oil on the ranch; Bobby’s son is fighting for renewable energy. The saga begins again, with fresh betrayals and new stories of impossible love.
Stop in and visit the Ewings
During many years, they invited themselves into your home via the telly. Now you can stop in and visit the Ewing residence at Southfork Ranch in Parker, in the north of Texas. Everything there is just like in the soap opera: the white building, its fields and its alley of trees. But one detail gives us pause: in reality the buildings are much smaller than those of our memories. ‘That’s not surprising,’ our guide explains. ‘Clever camera work and plenty of wide angles gave viewers the impression that the ranch was enormous.’ The same goes for the swimming pool – it actually looks more like a kiddie pool. ‘When Bobby was swimming laps, the camera would stop on a static shot for several seconds before you’d see him come back in the other direction. It made it look like a very long pool,’ she continues, smiling. She knows all of the production secrets.
From Texas to the sets of Los Angeles
Founded as a Texas cattle ranch in 1840, Southfork is symbolic of the 1980s - the boom years connected to the discovery of black gold in the region - even though oil was never found on the ranch itself. When shooting began in 1978, the ranch belonged to a fellow who preferred his herds to film crews. After lengthy discussions, the owner finally agreed to rent his house and land to the producers during three months every year (June through August). All of the outdoors scenes were filmed there, heat waves notwithstanding, and the temperature often rose above 40 °C. The indoor scenes were shot in a Los Angeles studio until the series ended in 1991. For this latest chapter of the series, studios have been created in the city of Dallas and today the ranch can be visited or rented. You can even get married there, if you’re not afraid of a tragic ending... Dallas-style.
London Heathrow-Dallas Fort Worth is available direct on BA and American Airlines starting at around £ 650 return.
Where to stay
Aloft Hotel, from $124 (£ 77.50/ € 96) double, breakfast not included
Visit Southfork Ranch
Dallas fans’ website