By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
The hours begin to pass, and the crowd begins to grow. It's hard to tell why, precisely—whether it's because of the interlopers, which Hardison insists were there and the Collin County Constable's Office dismisses, or whether it's because lax security has allowed the cheap-seat audience into the VIP sections. It's chaos, absolutely, but also thrilling for folks like Engels and hundreds of others who came to Southfork expecting a distant glimpse of their heroes but wound up smashed together with them and the other idol worshippers who'd come to the ranch for one last round-up.
There's a Q&A that lasts 30 minutes, which quickly degenerates into folks asking detailed questions about episodes—very William Shatner on Saturday Night Live, only no one barks, "Get a life!" A man proposes to his girlfriend, who gladly accepts, even though her boyfriend is "no Patrick Duffy." A woman in a wheelchair is brought to the front for a hug. And, according to the message boards, someone asked Hagman how much a new liver costs.
And though not everyone in the audience receives what they are promised, not by a long shot, the casts sticks around till well past midnight; Duffy, Hagman, Gray and Crosby even show for a sparsely attended press conference, which consists mainly of savvy fans who simply strolled into a separate conference room called Ewing II. "Don't you people have families to get home to?" asks Duffy, who, like the rest of his cast mates, remains oblivious to the chaos.
Of all the cast members, Duffy is perhaps the most thoughtful when it comes to the show's lasting success and influence. Maybe it's because he's a Buddhist—has been since the '70s, matter of fact. Dude likes to reflect. Because late into the night, while he's desperate to grab a quick bite of leftover barbecue and duck into the bathroom, Duffy's more than happy to stand still and consider, for as long as it takes, why Dallas mattered then and why, just maybe, it means something now.
"Well, interestingly enough, it means more to me on a night like this after the election we just went through," he says. "As controversial at the time as some of our story lines were, they allowed the international audience to become enamored of us in a positive way. They fell in love with the concept of Americana. It hasn't been so for the last few years, and I find it interesting that the one thing that has transcended the last eight years—oh, did I say the last eight years?—is people still love Dallas, so there is a germ of Americana that is still attractive to people. That's what I find refreshing: that we can go anywhere in the world, and no matter how negative the momentary opinion of our country might be by virtue of what we have done, they still react to the possibility of what this country could be even in something as trivial as a television show.
"As actors we didn't play Dallas going, 'This is what we're doing for the future.' We went, 'Woo-hoo, we're working actors, I love this shit!' We were channeling something, but believe me it was by accident."
And with that, Bobby Ewing's off to hit the head. "Man, I really gotta pee." Only, a fan has sneaked into the cast's private green room. He asks, softly and in an Eastern European accent, whether he can get a quick picture. And Duffy, by now shaking he's gotta piss so bad, says, "Sure, absolutely."