Saturday, November 24, 2012

Larry Hagman (1931-2012)

I was surprised to hear of Larry Hagman's passing this morning. It looked like the new "Dallas" was running full steam ahead, and he had just done a Piers Morgan interview only recently. From what I remember, he looked elderly but was in pretty hale condition when I saw him. Had no idea of his throat cancer.

Of course, he will always be known as J.R. Ewing, television's most famous psychopath, decades before "Dexter"hit the screen. But since I was never all that much of a drama fan (saw "Hill Street Blues" and "St. Elsewhere" in small bits and pieces), the only real interest I ever had in the original "Dallas"was when the "Who Shot J.R.?"cliffhanger came out, and even non-fans of the series had no choice but to listen to it since it completely subsumed TV and print media.

For me, Hagman will always be astronaut Major Tony Nelson on "I Dream of Jeannie". It might be  hard to imagine for those who only knew him as the evil J.R., but Hagman could play a completely comedic and harried straight man to Barbara Eden's kooky Jeannie. He was as good as Dick York in "Bewitched".

Then, even before that, there was the thriller "Fail Safe" in which Hagman played the Russian-to-English interpreter for Henry Fonda's US President. Absolutely serious, Hagman's interpreter looked haunted especially in the eyes as he realized the nuclear devastation that was about to be rained on both Moscow and New York City.

But getting back to "Dallas", reruns of the original were playing regularly on the local cable channel in Japan, Super Drama TV. And yet, I'd read somewhere that when the prime time soap had first premiered there, it had gotten a lot of flack from critics and viewers alike since apparently Charlene Tilton's character laughed out loud without doing the proper thing of covering her mouth when she did so. Not sure how much of that was urban legend. It's certainly not a problem now since if that so-called faux pas had held up to the present day, pretty much every female tarento in Japan would be having weekly press conferences of apology.

Not sure how the new "Dallas"is going to be able to continue much longer without J.R. I've heard that some of the Season 2 episodes had already been filmed. Perhaps it would be better that all of the plot lines be tied up by the end of the season and just have the series end right there, although the bean counters in Hollywood would burn me in effigy if they ever heard that from me.