After 10 years on the air, Leonard Katzman proposed fresh story ideas for the long-running prime time soap opera, 'Dallas' in 1988. Lenny suggested 'Dallas' should do one-episode stories format. "How many times can you have Bobby and Pam move in and out of SouthFork?" Lenny made the point. As well, 'Dallas' should also explore stories that would continue over several episodes rather than a full season. At the time, Kim LeMasters of CBS told 'The Los Angeles Times', "We tested it with audiences and they loved it. We think it's a very creative idea that everybody is excited about." 

Esther Shapiro of 'Dynasty' expressed, "One of the things that people traditionally liked is the fact that you're building on a story, and people want to know what's going to happen. Generally, in an hour show, you have to do a lot of exposition to introduce a new story, since each new character and story will need to be explained. But after 10 years, I applaud them for trying to do something different." 

In a show like 'Dallas', it was said, the story was the star. 'Dallas' told a tale about the power of life, death, love, guilt, more power, money and revenge. Larry Hagman told 'People' magazine, "Life is like a slide trombone—high notes and low notes." 'Dallas' "struck a rich vein of dramatic possibilities with one basic opposition: Old West vs the New West. The opposition is not a simple matter of Good vs Evil because one factor is dependent on the other." 

When David Jacobs created 'Dallas' in 1977, he insisted the series "makes no demands on the system. It is not about capitalism, Big Oil, the rich and the poor, abuse of power or any other social issues. The people are driven by very big emotions, and they're miserable." 'Time' magazine added, "The plot permutations have a biblical resonance: Cain and Abel, Abraham and Isaac, Noah and his sons, Sodom and Gomorrah." 

'Dallas' ended its 1979-1980 season with the who shot John Ross Ewing Jr. (also known as J.R.) cliffhanger. Some 88.6 million viewers representing a 53.3 rating and a 76 share tuned in to find out who. 'Time' magazine reported, "Never in the history of cliffhanging narrative have so many people waited and speculated on the resolution of a plot twist. British bookmakers seized on the golden opportunity. The favorite, at 6-4: Dusty Farlow, J.R.'s wife's 'dead' lover; at 4-1, J.R.'s mistress and his banker." Larry Hagman told 'People' magazine, "We've set up the most successful cliffhanger in the history of television." Lenny vowed, "We're going to do everything in our power to keep the audience guessing until the show airs."

It was noted, "The vast majority of top-rated broadcasts in TV history were presented during or near winter months, when cold weather kept more viewers across the nation at home." On February 28 1983, the 2½-hour finale of 'M*A*S*H' eclipsed 'Dallas' to become the most-watched single entertainment program in television history. Some 125 million viewers watched 'M*A*S*H' representing a 60.2 rating and a 77 share.

'Time' continued, "At last count (in August 1980), 300 million souls in 57 countries shared this benign obsession … In Johannesburg, where 'Dallas' is No. 1 in the ratings, Cabinet ministers refuse speaking engagements on Tuesday nights, knowing their constituency will be at home with the Ewings … Citizens of such troubled Middle East nations as Lebanon and Jordan find the show a welcome diversion, a fantasy land where oil-rich Americans have fun making themselves miserable." Larry Hagman observed, "You've got to have a day of rest somewhere along the line. Every major religion has one."

Larry Hagman was 15 when he returned to Texas in 1947 to live with his father. At the time, Ben Hagman was running for State Senator. Ben reportedly drove Larry all over Weatherford. Larry recounted, "I met all the dudes down there. Oil, cattle, politics, everything. Let me tell you, my character is milk toast compared with some of those people. Fratricide, patricide, brothers and sisters shooting each other, it was unbelievable."

'Time' magazine believed, "The 'Dallas' phenomenon stems from something more complex than an interest in whodunit. In short, punchy scenes, 'Dallas' tells viewers that the rich really are different: they sin more spectacularly and suffer in style. The budget for a typical 'Dallas' episode approaches $700,000, one of the highest in TV (at the time), but all the money is on the screen."

'M*A*S*H' (1983) and 'Dallas' (1980) were the No. 1 and No. 2 most-watched entertainment programs in TV history as at 2009. The others were:

3. 'Roots' - Part VIII (1977) which attracted 51.1% rating and 71% share of the audience

4. 'Gone With The Wind' - Part I (1976) which attracted 47.7% rating and 65% share of the audience

5. 'Gone With The Wind' - Part II (1976) which attracted 47.4% rating and 64% share of the audience

6. 'The Day After' (1983) which attracted 46% rating and 62% share of the audience

7. 'Roots' - Part VI (1977) which attracted 45.9% rating and 66% share of the audience

8. 'The Fugitive' (1967) which attracted 45.9% rating and 72% share of the audience

9. 'Roots' - Part V (1977) which attracted 45.7% rating and 71% share of the audience

10. 'Cheers' (1993) which attracted 45.5% rating and 64% share of the audience

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