After ‘Dallas’: 7 Shows That Aired in TV’s Best Time Slot

Monday Mornings, TNT

Who the hell are these people?

Stick around after “Dallas” tonight and you’ll see the debut of “Monday Mornings,” a weekly medical drama that – in the words of TNT’s press release – “follows the lives of doctors as they push the limits of their abilities and confront their personal and professional failings.” Back in the ’80s, the post-“Dallas” time slot – Friday nights at 10 – was some of the hottest real estate in prime time. Do you remember the other shows that tried to ride J.R.’s coattails to the top of the Nielsen charts?

“Falcon Crest”

Vintage

Vintage

Well, of course you remember this one. “Falcon Crest” debuted December 4, 1981, and followed “Dallas” on Friday nights for almost its entire nine-season run. (CBS bumped the show to Thursdays for its final four episodes.) The series starred the great Jane Wyman as the indomitable Angela Channing, who ruled the Northern California wine country the way J.R. ruled Big D. Wyman’s co-stars included Lorenzo Lamas, whose playboy Lance Cumson was the John Ross Ewing of his day. “Falcon Crest” also starred Robert Foxworth, a fine actor who turned down the role of J.R. in 1978 because he feared the character wasn’t likable enough. For this, we thank him.

“Capitol”

Washington women

Women at war

Wasn’t “Capitol” a daytime soap opera, you ask? Yes it was. But on March 26, 1982, three days before the serial joined CBS’s afternoon lineup (where it was sandwiched between “As the World Turns” and “Guiding Light”), “Capitol” got a one-hour preview after “Dallas.” The show was set in Washington, D.C., and told the story of two families: the McCandlesses and the Cleggs, who fought over politics the way the Barneses and the Ewings feuded over oil. Instead of old coots like Jock and Digger, “Capitol” gave us two grand dames: Constance Towers as Clarissa McCandless and Carolyn Jones – a.k.a. Morticia Addams – as Myrna Clegg. How progressive!

“Knots Landing”

Three’s a crowd, Gary

Three’s a crowd, Gary

“Dallas” and “Knots Landing” were made to go together, but the spinoff followed its parent in CBS’s lineup exactly once: October 29, 1982. That evening, Gary (Ted Shackelford) visited “Dallas” for the reading of Jock’s will, and the story continued on a special “Knots Landing” episode in which J.R. (Larry Hagman) canoodled with his middle brother’s latest squeeze Abby (Donna Mills). If CBS’s goal was to goose “Knots Landing’s” numbers, the plan worked: That week, “Dallas” finished first in the ratings and “Knots Landing” finished fourth. It was “Knots Landing’s” most-watched episode ever and the first time the show cracked Nielsen’s top 10.

“The Mississippi”

All wet

All wet

When “Falcon Crest” finished its second season early, CBS used the post-“Dallas” time slot to try out “The Mississippi,” which began a six-week run on March 25, 1983. The series starred “The Waltons” dad Ralph Waite as Ben Walker, a tugboat captain who also fought crime with help from sidekick Stella McMullen (Linda G. Miller). “The Mississippi” was an instant hit and earned its own slot on CBS’s fall 1983 schedule: Tuesday nights at 8. But without the benefit of a “Dallas” lead-in, “The Mississippi’s” audience dried up. (Oh, stop groaning. You knew that was coming.) In 1997, Waite appeared on Hagman’s “Orleans,” another CBS riverboats-and-crime drama.

“Hard Copy”

Get them rewrite!

Get them rewrite!

“Hard Copy” starred Michael Murphy as Andy Omart, a scribe for the Los Angeles Morning Post; Wendy Crewson as fellow newshound Blake Calisher; and Dean Devlin as David Del Valle (or was it David Del Valle as Dean Devlin?), a cub reporter. Also featured: George O. Petrie – a.k.a. Ewing family consigliere Harv Smithfield – as Scoop Webster. CBS launched “Hard Copy” after Super Bowl XXI (Giants stomp the Broncos, 39 to 20) in January 1987, where it bombed. In May, the network moved the show to Fridays, where it followed summertime “Dallas” reruns and bombed again. CBS stopped the presses for good six weeks later.

“Beauty and the Beast”

Once upon a time

Once upon a time

If you remember “Beauty and the Beast” airing before “Dallas,” you’re right. But before the romantic fantasy/action show moved to the pre-Southfork slot, CBS aired its pilot after “Dallas’s” 11th season premiere on September 25, 1987. You’ll recall that was the night Pam was rescued from her fiery car crash. Perhaps CBS thought seeing Pam wrapped in bandages would help viewers mentally prepare to meet Vincent (Ron Perlman), the lion-like creature who made Catherine Chandler (Linda Hamilton) swoon. Vincent’s face was hidden in all the show’s pre-debut publicity, including TV Guide’s fall preview; the hairy mug wasn’t revealed until the premiere.

“Sons & Daughters”

Circle unbroken?

Circle unbroken?

“Dallas’s” final dance partner, “Sons & Daughters,” debuted January 4, 1991, four months before the Ewings rode off into the sunset. The “Parenthood”-style series starred Don Murray as Bing Hammersmith, the patriarch of a quirky family that included Lucie Arnaz as his eldest daughter Tess. CBS planned to call the show “The Hammersmiths” and pair it with Murray’s previous series, “Knots Landing,” on Thursdays, but when Fox shifted its red-hot “The Simpsons” to that night, CBS changed the title to “Sons & Daughters” and shifted it to Fridays. “Sons & Daughters” was set in Portland, Oregon – just like “Monday Mornings.” We’ve come full circle, folks.

What did you enjoy watching after “Dallas” on Friday nights? Share your memories below and read more features from Dallas Decoder.