Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Travelling Tuesday - Where's Wylie?

This week at The Pink Heart Society we again check in with our wandering Editor Trish Wylie as she continues her adventures in the United States...

So after the conference I headed a little outside of Dallas to revisit a part of my youth. Look familiar to anyone??? No? Really? Am I the only one who was ever tempted to visit a touch of television history? OH-COME-ON-GANG you can't tell me you didn't join in the great Who Shot J.R. debate?!

Yes indeedy. As part of my post-conference relaxation (and to break up the two days I spent lying by the hotel pool reading more books than I have in the last six months!) I moseyed on over to Southfork Ranch y'all!!! And do'ya know - it may have been gloriously kitsch, but it was fun! And the folks that run the show at Southfork were so gosh-darned friendly that I'd have settled a mite longer if I'd jus had the time!

The ranch was originally built as a working horse ranch by a man ironically named J.R. and it was running along quite happily as such until the day a helicopter landed in the front paddock and a passle of Hollywood Producer types hopped on out to say they had an idea for a new TV show and would like to hire out the ranch. Unfortunately the helicopter frightened the livestock so the real J.R. was none too happy and sent the producers on their way. Oh how different might the tale have been if they hadn't returned and upped the financial rewards until there was no saying no anymore...

But J.R. was an ornery fella and he stipulated that even with all that nice money, they could only film in the summer months so as not to disturb his kids schoolin. Smart huh? And so it was that the stars of Dallas such as Larry Hagman and Patrick Duffy and Victoria Principle and Ken Kerchieval et all were only actually in Dallas to film Dallas for three months and the other nine they filmed Dallas in...erm... L.A.... In a studio... Where they could make any of the rooms of the ranch as large as they wanted to...

So when you get to the *real* Southfork it means that the rooms look hellish smaller and it also means that many of the interior rooms are only dressed to match the theme of the place rather than to match the rooms we would actually have seen. (personally I don't remember the rooms myself but there ya go...) But even with that I still found some of the decor interesting - the fact that the entire top floor seems to be bedroom, bathroom and very little else, the fact that that bathroom has side-by-side toilets (who DOES that? I mean there's *togetherness* and then there's ewwwwww - unless you're two women in a night-club that is...!), the fact that a football team could shower in the shower and that four adults could get in the pink jacuzzi tub which has a room of its own - but my favourite room in the whole place was the sitting room. The sitting room just LOOKED like it belonged there , you know? The colours, the furniture, the fireplace... And even the fact that there was a Jock Ewing portrait above the fireplace and Ewing *family pictures* on the bookshelves didn;t take away from the fact that the room just looked like people could live in it. And to lil ole me who knows no better it just *felt* ranch-like... I even felt a bit of a plot begin in the back of my brain where plots are born.

But there are touches of the show still around, fear not. Obviously all the exterior shots were filmed there - the shots coming up the driveway, the shots by the pool, the very table and chairs where the Ewing family would gather for breakfast and a new plot twist or three. And there are miniature rodeo pens that were used and corrals and stables and all that. So the scent of the show is still in the air, even if some of the items look a little different in real life. Like, ooooh, say THE POOL for example. Which was Olympic sized in the show when Bobby did his morning laps... and is, well, NOT Olympic size in real life. So how did they manage this feat of optical-illusion-ment??? Well... a mirror apparently...

I'm ruining it all for you now, aren't I?

What IS very very new about the Southfork Ranch of today as opposed to the one used for three months of the year back in the late seventies and early eighties(?) is the addition of a Dallas / Southfork Museum with such treasures as Lucy's wedding dress and the Ewing family tree and even - yes really! - the very prop gun used to shoot J.R. Ewing!!! May I just say at this point that Lucy was indeed T-I-N-Y and that the gun that shot J.R. had a very lovely pearl-type handle...

The ranch has been long since abandoned by the real J.R. who really could have had no idea the impact this show would have on his family's life long term. When the show was at it's height they had people camping out in the front paddock and rows of RV's in the road outside... people stealing the mail addressed to J.R.... Well, you can imagine. So he sold the ranch and moved to a more normal kinda life. These days it's owned by the chap who pretty much controls the worlds supplies of Aloe Vera. So any product IN THE WORLD that uses Aloe Vera had to have bought FROM HIM. Yuh-huh. Rich would NOT be in it. And this multi-billionaire then built the Southfork we now see; with it's museum and convention centre and gift shops and all and for a week once a year there is a massive Country and Western Gospel *do* where hundreds of thousands take over the ranch come rain or shine. I kinda liked that it's still so well used, even though the show itself is falling further and further back into the annals of TV History. Mind you... there was also a part of me that could see it as a working ranch again. Probably the horse owner in me as it happens... And I could see a handsome rancher there... and an Irish heroine... possibly blonde... and, erm, curvy... but with an AMAZING sense of humor... and possibly a writer... CHAPTER ONE...

You can still follow my travels over on my own BLOG where I'm also about to blog on the Michael Hauge talks I attended at the RWA Conference... As to where I went next... well... you'll just have to come back next week to see, won't you???

So if you could visit the site of just one TV show past or present, what would it be??? Hmmm???

H's & K's

Trish hits us with double releases this month - The Return Of The Rebel (which is a follow up to Breathless!) in Modern Extra - and Bride Of The Emerald Isle (the book she'll be signing at the RWA Nationals this week!) in Romance...

The Return Of The Rebel is available from Amazon UK or from Mills & Boon ! And Bride Of The Emerald Isle is available from Eharlequin or Amazon in the USA & Canada and Mills & Boon or Amazon UK in the UK.
You can also buy it as an E-Book here!!! For more info visit her Website or her Blog.


  1. Great post! Talk about way back, lol!

    I might like to visit Oprah's show. I'd love a chance to meet her and talk with her a bit.


  2. Thanks Trish - just one question - and what was Sean up to while you were viewing Southfork? Was he out buying a ten gallon hat?? Enquiring Cats want to know

  3. Side by side toilets??????? No wonder the Ewing marriages were often in such straits. I think there should be a little bit of mystery left, don't you?

  4. What TV show would I visit?

    Buffy. Hands down.

    Giles, in the library, with a bottle of wine.

    'nuff said. ;)


  5. I would LOVE to visit the beach house that Kelly and Donna lived in in Beveley Hills 90210! Silly, I know, but I can't tell you how many Wednesday nights (when I was supposed to be studying) that I spent wishing I could afford a beach house instead of my sub-standard student housing. dream.

  6. Great post, Trish. I'm currently watching reruns on UK Gold. I was one of those people who didn't watch it first time around. But now I am hooked!

  7. Thanks for the pictures and the information on the Dallas Ranch House. It brought back a lot of memories.
    If I could visit a TV set from my past it would have to be one from my much younger days.
    There was a show on TV that was called Dark Shadows that I would run home from school every day to watch. It was set in an Old Gothic Mansion and was about a Vampire. I'd love to be able to visit the Mansion that Dark Shadows was filmed in. Mads:)

  8. It's a toss up between the Addam's Family's home (but I'd have to get to meet Mortrisha and Gomez in person and watch him kiss his way up her arm), or the house and town of Little House on the Prairie. I loved that show. I think because they were such a warm family. Or maybe because Mrs Olsen and Nellie were so horrid. Heh.


  9. Fun post. Can't think of any famous houses I'd like to vist--if you discount Oprah's but only if she'll let me stay or at least have a meal with her--but this would be a fun one.