Q. When will “Dallas” start its new season? The cliffhanger last year was whether Christopher Ewing survived his car explosion.
— Betty Cathers, of Belleville
A. It must have been a terrible shock for Dallas fans to watch the adopted son of Bobby and ex-wife Pamela apparently being incinerated while Elena, who had just discovered she was pregnant, is left screaming in horror on the parking lot.
But an even worse bombshell came two weeks later. Last Oct. 3, the TNT network announced that it was pulling the plug on the revival of the popular 1980s soap opera after three seasons. So whether young Christopher really did die in the explosion will be going with executive producers Cynthia Cidre and Michael Robin to their own graves — at least for now.
“We are extremely proud of the series, which defied expectations by standing as a worthy continuation of the Ewing saga,” a TNT spokesman said in announcing the cancellation of the soap opera about the wealthy Ewing oil barons and their many peccadillos. “We want to thank everyone involved with the show, from the extraordinary cast to the impeccable production team ... We especially want to think the people of Dallas for their warm and generous hospitality.”
At first, old “Dallas” fans gave the show, which centered on the next generations of the Ewing clan, Texas-sized ratings. On June 13, 2012, nearly 7 million viewers tuned in for the premiere. By comparison, the original “Dallas” hooked more than 20 million for much of its 14-season run, but the cable numbers still were plenty strong for a quick renewal for season two. And when original star Larry Hagman died in late 2013, viewership spiked again for an episode that featured his character J.R.’s funeral.
But after opening its third and final season in the spring of 2014 with 2.7 million viewers, the now J.R.-less show plunged, losing more than a third of its viewers to a low of 1.7 million by the last of its 40 episodes on Sept. 22. Looking for a younger audience and even edgier programming, TNT opted to dump it.
That wasn’t quite the end of it. “Dallas” followers took to social media to beg TNT to reconsider. In the meantime, the producers were hoping a streaming service or another network such as the CW would pick it up. But the show apparently did not fit into financial framework of a Netflix or the age demographics of a CW. So after a six-week effort, Cidre and Robin drove in the final stake on Nov. 19.
“Well, we have come to the end,” they wrote their fans. “Warner Horizon has attempted, in a Herculean way, to try and find us a new home, but at the end of the day it did not work out. We so appreciate the outpouring of support by all of you, and the #SaveDallas campaign was a truly remarkable undertaking. We cannot fully express how much we loved making this show for you and with you. ... Thank you again for loving ‘Dallas.’”
Q. Is the city of Belleville ever going to finish its work around Union Avenue and South Eighth Street? The streets have looked horrendous for months now, and nothing has been happening for weeks.
— M.S., of Belleville
A. I’m sure you’ve heard “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad.” Well, right now Tim Gregowicz, the city engineer, is singing, “I’ve Been Waiting on the Railroad.” He says the city can finish the project in a matter of days, but it needs approval to do some alterations around the tracks at Eighth and West Lincoln streets.
“What we’re waiting on is for the railroad to sign off on the right-of-entry permit,” Gregowicz told me Tuesday. “We have some drainage structures that we have to raise there, because we’re going to raise the roadway at the railroad tracks to make it a smoother transition. So right now we’re just waiting on the railroad. I have an e-mail into them this morning.”
It’s been a year since the city started the $650,000 project, which was designed to install new sidewalks and curbs, separate the storm-water and sewer pipes and repave both South Eighth Street from the railroad tracks to Gass Avenue and Union Avenue from Eighth to 10th Street. Once the railroad gives its go-ahead, Gregowicz says the work probably will be completed within two weeks — a week or so for the curbing and drainage structures and a day or so for the paving.
“It’s hard to say (exactly), but we’re going to have it done before the summer is up,” Gregowicz said.
Until then, it appears my cycling adventures in the area will remain a little treacherous.
How did the Sistine Chapel at the Vatican acquire its name?
Answer to Wednesday’s trivia: Talk about your diamonds in the rough! In 1924, Wesley Oley Basham, a worker at the Arkansas Diamond Corp., stumbled on a 40.23-carat monster at the Prairie Creek pipe mine near Murfreesboro, Ark. Cut not once but twice by Schenck & Van Haelen, of New York, it was turned into a 12.42-carat, emerald-cut beauty and remains the largest diamond ever found in the United States. It’s called the Uncle Sam diamond — but perhaps not for the reason you might think. It is said that Basham’s nickname was Uncle Sam, so it was named after the finder. (Others, however, insist the name comes from the popular personification of the United States.) Whatever the real story, Sidney de Young, a Boston diamond dealer, acquired it in 1971 and reportedly sold it to an anonymous private collector for $150,000. The mine where it was found is now the Crater of Diamonds State Park, the only public diamond mine in the world. Since the site became a state park in 1972, tourists have taken home nearly 30,000 diamonds as souvenirs.
Send your questions to Roger Schlueter, Belleville News-Democrat, 120 S. Illinois St., P.O. Box 427, Belleville, IL 62222-0427, firstname.lastname@example.org or call 618-239-2465.