In 1986, the return of Patrick Duffy as Bobby helped Dallas win its first head-to-head skirmish with hip, Technicolor rival, Miami Vice, and the prime-time soap continued to dominate for the duration of the season and beyond.
Now, almost 30 years later, Don Johnson, who once made America safe for neon blazers and shoes without socks, returns to TV with a primetime soap of his own, Blood & Oil, which debuted on ABC on Sunday, September 27.
The last time more than one sudser lorded over the Nielson ratings was from 1982 to 1986, when Dallas and Dynasty both made the top 10, and Knots Landing rounded out the Top 20 (the aforementioned Miami Vice relegated time-slot competitor Falcon Crest to #24).
From 1982 to 1986, the US unemployment rate ranged from 8.6% to 6.7%, with a high of 10.4% in 1983. In 1983, Dallas was #1, Dynasty was #3, and Falcon Crest #8.
In other words, the poorer Americans feel, the more they want to watch rich people.
In August, America’s unemployment rate was 5.1%. So how does that bode for Blood & Oil?
We would say not well. Except for one key factor: A little show called Empire.
Primetime soaps came roaring back with a vengeance last year, thanks to this music-world set melodrama. And lest you think Blood & Oil isn’t aware of that, can you think of another reason why their promos highlighted the word EMPIRE in block, gold letters?