You can't be that successful for that long and not have some kind of long-range impact. The more I watch Dallas the more I think it's an important though unheralded influence on modern TV shows. Dallas' legacy lies with its incredibly successful merging of the primetime drama with the daytime soap serial. It's a formula that's been employed by pretty much every important hour-long drama of the current "golden age" of television, from The Sopranos to Six Feet Under to Lost. These shows are often described as having "novelistic" structure, with their many ongoing storylines stretching out over several episodes or even seasons. But "novelistic" is really just a pretentious way of saying "soap," and Dallas was doing it back when David Chase was turning out scripts for The Rockford Files.

Like today's classier primetime serials, Dallas was centered on an amoral anti-hero. Only J.R. Ewing doesn't wrestle with the consequences of his actions like Tony Soprano or Vic Mackey on The Shield—not so far anyway. For now J.R. loooves being a villain, cackling over a scotch and water while wreaking destruction on those in his personal and professional lives. You end up liking him not because he's humanized by having a "good" side, but because J.R. has so damn much fun being bad. Due in large part to Larry Hagman's iconic, larger-than-life performance, J.R. is the most gleefully infectious prick you'll ever encounter.

Here's another thing: Dallas is pretty dark and plain weird sometimes. In the very first episode, there's an early scene where cowhand Ray Krebs and underage high school student Lucy get it on the Ewing barn, and Ray gets turned on when Lucy lets him call her Pam, his ex-lover and Bobby's new wife. I doubt you'd see that on primetime TV today, where non-judgemental depictions of kinky statutory rape are in alarmingly small supply. Or how about the episode where J.R. and Krebs go to Waco to sleep with some horny housewives–J.R. and Krebs regularly go to Waco to screw housewives in early Dallas episodes–only to draw the ire of their husbands, one of whom is played by Brian Dennehy. After tracking them back to the Ewings' Southfork ranch, the angry husbands take the family hostage and threaten to rape the Ewing women. At one point Sue Ellen is humiliated by donning her old Miss Texas swimsuit and singing her pageant song. It's a pretty disturbing episode not unlike something out of Twin Peaks, another revolutionary show touched by Dallas.

Work is currently underway on a Dallas movie to be directed by Betty Thomas, who is perhaps best known for The Brady Bunch movies. The project has languished in Hollywood for years, and after trying to make a go of a "straight" dramatic take, the Dallas movie is going to be a comedy. (With John Travolta as J.R., so you know it's good.) It's too bad but predictable–let's laugh at the '70s again! Can you believe the clothes back then? And the hair! Hoo-boy, the hair!

I'm telling you (and Hollywood, if you're listening), Dallas cries out for a serious Battlestar Galactica style update, either on film or (better) TV. As gas prices skyrocket, a show about a greedy oil family from W.'s Texas is potentially rich dramatic material, no? I'd love to see a modern-day TV auteur clear away the dated cheesiness of the original and pick up on what Dallas alludes to but doesn't quite develop, like the dynamic between craggy family patriarch Jock Ewing and his sons Bobby and J.R., who have absorbed his good and evil sides, respectively, and are used by their deceptively benign father to consolidate his power. Dallas is one of the great "shout at the TV screen" shows ever, but it could be artful in the right hands. I'm not holding my breath though. For now I'll just enjoy all the Dallas I've yet to see. As for the haters, it's like my man Haverchuck says, "You suck, Dallas rules!