I’m ready for some junk food…for the mind, that is!

"Science Friday" Recommendations
“Science Friday” Recommendations (Photo credit: LollyKnit)

I recently shared with you some wishlist titles I ogled at the bookstore and revealed a few impromptu purchases, too. You may have noticed from my choices that I have an interest in neuroscience–social, cognitive and behavioral. I work in an academic environment and I could perpetuate the idea that I only invest time in somewhat curricular topics. But truth in advertising…I do indulge in the occasional entertainment junk food!

I’ll set this up!

I was married in the early 1970s and Jay was a railroad guy! He was on the road quite a bit and by the time the 1970s came to a close I had two small children and was often alone with them on evenings and some weekends.I was very fortunate to have been home raising my children during those years, but we have a joke between us that I don’t remember the ’80s.

I’ve said this for years only because so often someone will refer to an event and I’ll question I was even there! I don’t know why my memory is so spotty during that particular decade, but I typically respond that I must have been so stressed that my memory vacated the premises! I don’t think I recognized anything as so stressful at the time, but in reality I was balancing a lot on my own. I was very young, and so I suppose there was stress. Not all stress is recognized as distress!

But I must remember more than I claim because the other evening watching the Tony Awards a commercial caught my attention sparking memory when I heard a familiar strain of music.  It all came back to me! Every single Friday night from 1978 to 1991 I made sure that I was home and ready to watch the back-stabbing, deceitful and amoral Ewing family on the highly successful nighttime soap opera, Dallas!  I might not have been in a position to go out with friends or even entertain in…but my Friday nights held plenty of enjoyment.

The original cast of Dallas. Clockwise from to...
The original cast of Dallas. Clockwise from top right are: Larry Hagman (in cowboy hat), Linda Gray, Jim Davis, Charlene Tilton, Victoria Principal, Patrick Duffy, and Barbara Bel Geddes (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Whatever weekday stress I had accumulated was minimized as I sat engrossed in the tempestuous exploits of the notorious bad guy with the grin, J.R. Ewing, and his brother, Bobby–who also played a successful oil baron but without the bottomless bag of dirty tricks. Of course the family drama was excessive with a cast of characters that to this day remain some of my favorites. Dallas was included in Time magazine’s 2007 list of “100 Best TV Shows of All-Time” and upon conclusion in 1991 it was also one of the longest lasting primetime dramas in American television.

The now famous Who Shot J.R. episode was at the time the highest rated episode in history with an estimated 83,000,000 viewers. I wasn’t alone in my little Friday night addiction. In relative terms television was very simple in those days. There were far fewer choices and viewing options, limited recording devices, none until much later, and cliffhanger plot devices were still quite new, creating shocking season endings that held a regular viewer in suspense until the show started again a few months later.

Watching Sunday night’s Tony Awards I caught a lengthy trailer for the NEW Dallas, which is airing tomorrow night (Wednesday) in the U.S. on the TNT channel, but I also read it is airing in the U.K.–if not right now, soon-to-be. I don’t usually watch television on “school nights,” but unlike the ’80s, we have DVRs and I can record it to watch on Friday night–just like I used to enjoy it!

Dallas icon Larry Hagman, now 80, will reunite with original co-stars Patrick Duffy and Linda Gray and as one article put it, “bring the same sense of malicious joie de vivre” that hooked me thirty years ago. I don’t have high hopes for great drama. The era of soap opera obsession is over, I think, or at least it is for me. But I will be watching nonetheless, even if it is just to revisit some of the characters and chuckle along at the absurdity of the plot twists and turns.

I think it’s a good thing to indulge in a little junk food once in a while, even if it’s just to celebrate the fact that we don’t need it every day! Maybe I’ll just DVR the new episodes and hold them in abeyance to pull out any time I need a tool to help diffuse a little stress. Junk food is sometimes synonymous with comfort food–at least it is for me!

I saw something else on another commercial aired during the Tony Awards and it has me all stirred up–so next week I’ll share all about it! And it’s the opposite of junk food.  A few clues–French, music, classic…that’s it for now! Stay tuned!

Humming the Dallas theme song I MUST breathe lighter…Debra

29 thoughts on “I’m ready for some junk food…for the mind, that is!

  1. Although I never caught the Dallas bug I’ve my own set of junk food programming that I watch and a couple movies that could easily fall into the junk category. Whether some are willing to admit it, I think we all allow a little junk into our lives for mindless entertainment. It is television, after all, not Chekhov.

    1. It’s taken me a day to get back to responding, John, but I read your response yesterday and chuckled thinking to myself that mindless television isn’t Chekhov, that’s for sure, but I think Dallas, with all the family treachery may be Shakespeare…a little trashier, but I could still make the point 🙂 It’s a little mind-numbing, but some fun, too. And fortunately a little goes a long way! 🙂 Debra

  2. Cheers to the original Dallas. We watched the show too …. and my wife loved spin-off Knotts Landing. I too am not counting much on this series doing well, but the first one will be fun. Meanwhile, it will be interesting to see the rating trend over the first 3 weeks. Thanks for the flashback.

    1. I’m glad I found an ally in at least admitting they used to watch it, Frank! LOL! I watched the show tonight and I think it could be fun. I thought with the opening credits and many of the scene set-ups that it had a very “80s” feel, which will either remain fun for people or be a big turn-off. It felt very intentional to me and I think it’s just pure fun. Good old J.R. still has his smile! They have all aged…I’m so glad I haven’t! 🙂 Debra

  3. It’s nice to have that weekly “addiction” to a TV show; I find it to be a good and total form of escape from the usual stresses. I usually read nonfiction books too – my thirst is for targeted history and certain types of autobiographies – but every so often I need a little “junk food” fiction too; sometimes I crave 19th century books just for the simplicity of the time and the historical aspect woven in. One fiction book is usually enough to last me for a while unless I get hooked on a series. 🙂

    1. Escape is exactly what it is, isn’t it! I don’t think I have too much to escape from right now, so maybe that’s why I don’t indulge more often. I have friends with tremendous stress and they sometimes don’t have the energy at night to do anything else, and I can understand that. Dallas is just one of those shows that makes me chuckle for its place in the American culture…back in the big oil days, with big shoulder pads and big hair! LOL! Debra

  4. No this should make you giggle Debra, when I was a student we used to play a game called Drink Along A Dallas, which involved having a drink everytime a character on screen had a drink. Sloshed would be one way of describing us!

    1. That is so funny, Claire! So you are very familiar with the show, although I guess I would wonder if you made it through to the end of each episode? Ha! The Ewings are quite a family…and it looks like the next generation is going to be just as bad as their parents! I had a lot of fun with it tonight. I taped it the other night and got trough it quickly…but I may already be hooked. Oh no! 🙂 Debra

  5. I never watched the original, but I do remember a nod to Dallas in “The Wedding Singer” when Adam Sandler’s brother-in-law is late leaving the house and yells, “Something happened to J.R.! I think he got shot or something!”

    1. I didn’t see the Wedding Singer, but I would have loved that line! I watched the NEW Dallas tonight and it brought back a lot of fun! I am quite sure it could never match the expectations of what I recall from such a long time ago, but it had the same over-the-top soap opera feel, and that alone is worth a chuckle! Thanks so much for leaving your comment. I may yet get a chance to see the Wedding Singer! Debra

    1. I guess people all over the world are capable of wasting a little time on a mind-numbing television show, Sharyn. Ha! You probably had much better things to do with your time than I did some Friday nights! 🙂 And if you aren’t already on your way, let me again wish you a very happy trip to France. It sounds just terrific! Debra

  6. Lovely post, Debra: we call it ‘mind candy’. Mad and Fe watch Spongebob on Fridays and weekends; I love those idiotic animals do the funniest things programmes. A little mind candy, I think, is essential. And Dallas? I remember the Who Shot JR t shirts like it was yesterday!

    1. ‘Mind Candy’ is a great way to describe Dallas, Kate. I am very easily hooked on any television show that has good cliffhanger endings! I had forgotten about the Who Shot JR t-shirts…I wish I now had one of them just for the memories! I’m going to remember ‘mind candy.’ 🙂 Debra

  7. Enjoy any entertainment you can as you never know when you can’t follow even the simplest plots! I was too busy to watch television and wish I had. So I missed “Dallas” and all the rest. Now I have all the time to do so…I can’t follow any plots. News & documentaries is as deep as it gets! On the other post you demonstrated how the cactus is beautiful on Friday and gone on Monday. Enjoy what you can, while you can! It’s the simple things in life that matter. Edie

    1. That is a sobering thought to realize that following a television plot can be too taxing! Thanks for the reminder, Edie, to simply enjoy! And not to take the pleasure of it for granted. I really hear you! Debra

  8. Andra Watkins

    I was never allowed to watch Dallas, Debra. It was considered too racy by my mom. 🙂 (She cringes almost daily now.) I hope you love the new series.

    1. I can see what your mom was concerned about when you were young. It really was, especially for the time, very adult. Probably by today’s standards I wouldn’t be as shocked by any of it! I must ask my daughter what she remembers. She mentioned the other day how she recalled my love for it, and by the time it went off the air she would have been in college, but the kids were very young through its hey-dey. I hope I didn’t over-expose them…I don’t remember, because as I say, I don’t remember the 80s. That lapse in memory is an excellent excuse now, isn’t it? 🙂 Debra

  9. Ha! What happened on Friday night’s Dallas was always a subject of animated conversation at the water cooler on Monday morning, Debra. The music was the cue as the girls were put to bed. Alas, I missed it tonight. Oh well . . .

    There are a lot of television shows I never caught until later years. The kids were little, then doing homework, then sports and clubs and so forth. It’s fun to see some of them now.

    I am old enough to remember Barbara Bel Gedes as the daughter, Katrina, in the black and white “I Remember Mama”. She played, she was, a girl in her teens. Yikes!

    1. I kind of enjoyed the NEW Dallas, Penny. It had the original feel from the moment the credits rolled, and is poised to be very soap opera in feel. It felt a bit dated, but as though it were intentional, so it worked for me! I’m sure, should you really be curious, it will air again before the next episode. I’m really glad you recall Dallas fever in he 70s and 80s. At the time I liked all those shows, Falcon Crest with Jane Wyman, and several others. Apparently I watched a great deal of television. But because Jay worked at night, and also because I was younger and could stay up half the night and still function the next day, I also watched all the old British comedies on our local PBS channel. Some of those I still enjoy and I much prefer them to most current television. I think that’s a sure sign I’m getting old1 🙂 Debra

    1. How great that you have diaries dating back to when your children were young, Celi! I never did that with a bit of consistency, I’m sorry to say! Photos I do have! I might think of getting them out and starting conversations with the family members who seem to have the best memories…fill in some gaps! 🙂 Debra

  10. Ginny Rood

    I watched the original (we invited friends over to watch the “who shot JR” reveal) and we watched the new one this week. Not sure I can get into the new show. I spent too much time trying to remember what happened on the original and I forgot that Pam was dead. I now kind of remember her car driving into and under the side of a semi.

    1. You’re so fun, Ginny! I would have loved to be with you for both the original episode as well as the new one! I kind of enjoyed it. It had such a vintage soap opera feel to it! By the time you come visit at the end of the month we’ll have a couple of weeks to review! We can be the Siskel and Ebert of television show critiquing! I forgot about Pam and the truck,too! I do remember it now, though…maybe my memory is coming back! 🙂 D

  11. Dear Debra, I never watched “Dallas,” not even the “who killed” episode. But I do remember how popular it was. The show I never missed took place in Baltimore and was a police drama. I can’t remember the name, but one of the actors–Andre Baughr (spelling???) is still renowned for his work. I think we all need to find those things–movies, books, food, television, music–that comfort us. That make us feel as if our mothers (mine’s been dead since 1968; she died when she was only 58) have wrapped a quilt around us and are cuddling us and saying, “It’s okay, my love. Okay.”


    1. It doesn’t surprise me at all, Dee, that you didn’t watch Dallas! When it was in its hey-dey you were far too busy doing much more important things! LOL! I can’t imagine you using your time to escape in that way…but I love the way you share the picture of using some forms of escape entertainment as comfort. I think that’s so true. I know it wasn’t your main emphasis here, but you’ve spoken of your mother so many times and I hadn’t realized she died so young! What a huge loss for you! The loss of a mother’s comfort is huge, and I wonder if you’ve written about that? You share so beautifully, Dee. I love reading everything you write…including a simple comment or reply! You are so thoughtful. Debra

  12. Andrea Thomson Viner @ Iowa Dog Blog

    I agree that you have to enjoy some “junk food” once in a while. On a separate note, I am reading Last Child in the Woods right now!

I always enjoy hearing from you!

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