Wednesday, 17 August 2022

Celebrity Jukebox #23: Patrick Duffy

"It was all a dream."

When I'm teaching creative writing to GCSE students, I generally advise against the "It was all a dream" ending. You'd be amazed how many students use it. I generally explain to them that after reading a whole story and investing in the characters, the reader will feel cheated if everything that happened turns out to be nothing more than the product of a bad night's sleep. And if they still insist on using it, I tell them about Bobby Ewing in Dallas.

When I say the name Patrick Duffy, please don't be confused with the singers Patrick Duff or even Stephen Tin Tin Duffy. Although that's not to say Patrick hasn't had his own pop career... of sorts.

I feel I need to apologise to anybody who clicked the play button on that. I'm truly, truly sorry. But it did get to Number 5 in the charts in 1983. (In the Netherlands.)

My first encounter with Patrick Duffy was in 1977 when he and his webbed fingers popped up on my tea time TV screen as the short-lived Man From Atlantis. And look, here's a song about that!

And another one that might hit a nerve or two for anyone who misses the 70s...

Patrick Duffy ruled Atlantis, Charlie's girls upheld the law
We all prayed we grow up Farrah, we became Kate Jacksons all

Soon after, the webbed fingers went away, and Duffy turned into Bobby Ewing, nice guy brother to the dastardly J.R. (Larry Hagman...who I'm sure will get his turn on the jukebox one day). Eight nail-biting seasons went by in the blink of an eye, and then Duffy chose to pursue other career opportunities and Bobby was killed off... except when both Duffy's career and the show's rating fell off a cliff as a result, the producers realised they had to bring him back. And the only solution they could come up with was for it to turn out that the whole of the Duffy-less Season 9 was actually Pam's bad dream. Victoria Principal must have eaten a shitload of cheese that night.

Patrick and Bobby both show up in the song Why? by Grits...

Now don't get indignant, catch yourself before you act ignorant
That's a sure sign of dead minds, benign and malignant
From here to Dallas, extended with vocal stewing
My walk never switches from Patrick Duffy to Bobby Ewing

But I have to admit, I'm surprised Bobby's resurrection doesn't get referenced in any song I could find, despite extensive research. It was such a colossal shark jump moment in popular culture, one that's been parodied in everything from The Simpsons and Family Guy to The Big Breakfast... I was disappointed not to find at least one lyrical reference. Quite a few pop songs do mention Dallas though, including The Day Before You Came by Abba (Agnetha was apparently a big fan)...

I'm sure I had my dinner watching something on TV
There's not, I think, a single episode of Dallas that I didn't see

My brother's doin' bad, stole my mother's TV
Says she watches too much, it's just not healthy
All My Children in the daytime, Dallas at night
Can't even see the game or the Sugar Ray fight

...however, I like to believe the one that gets closest to commenting on Bobby's comeback, and how Dallas was never the same again, is this one from Pulp. Any excuse to play it again...

It's like a later "Tom & Jerry"
When the two of them could talk
Like the Stones since the Eighties
Like the last days of Southfork

(That's the album version. But if you've not seen the video, which doesn't actually feature Jarvis singing at all, but a lot of bad cover versions, you should watch it too. I never get tired of it.)


  1. There's great harmonising from Mr Duffy on that video!

    1. I hope you're being sarcastic.

    2. I have listened that song in its entirety, do I get a prize?

    3. You should seek urgent medical treatment.

    4. I can better that (or worsen it?), I once owned a copy of the single. I bought it to give away prize at an annual music sort of quiz I used to run where all the prizes were terrible records. The box of treasures George has been reviewing for Charity Chic would have come in very handy for those events.

    5. That must have been top prize.

  2. How have I never seen the Pulp bad cover versions video before? Brilliant.

  3. Every time I see that video, I am momentarily convinced that the David Bowie bod is Shakin Stevens

    1. Who's Shakin Stevens?

      Only who David Bowie could have been...

  4. I initially misread the Deirdre Flint lyric quote as "Patrick Duffy ruined Atlantis".

    Having coincidentally watched an episode of The Man From Atlantis only last week (recorded from Forces TV, of all places), I can honestly say that would have been a more appropriate line.

    Duffy must have been gutted that his Dolphin-inspired swimming style didn't join the crawl, butterfly and breast stroke in subsequent Olympic Games...

    1. And yet, Sam still has to learn it at his swimming classes...


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