Once upon a time on the Anatolian plateau, an American found himself being upbraided by a Turkish village patriarch. "Your 'Dallas' is ruining my children," the villager said. "All those fancy clothes and carryings-on with women -- what do you think my children learn from this?" Trying to sympathize, the American suggested that the patriarch simply turn off the TV set. "I can't do that," the Turk grumbled. "My children want to watch."
Everybody thought "Dallas" was either a cause or a symptom of moral decline, but everybody wanted to watch. The world became a true global village on Nov. 21, 1980, when some 350 million fans in 91 countries are said to have tuned in to find out who shot J.R.
For 356 Friday nights spread across 13 years "Dallas" reflected the themes of America in the Reagan years: greed, glitter, dysfunctional family ties and the primacy of imagination over reality. David Jacobs, the Baltimorean who invented "Dallas," had never visited the city when he created the show. A building that provided some of the exterior shots became "Southfork," the Ewing family seat, is now one of the leading tourist attractions in the city of Dallas.