At least here in the States, I think by the time Dalton's tenure came around, the 007 franchise was being diluted by other "sequel" franchises like Die Hard, Lethal Weapon, Indiana Jones, and whatever the "next" Arnold S. movie was that was coming out. Certainly by 1989, LTK was just "another" installment of another sequel-driven franchise. I recall, back in college, waiting tables at a national chain-restaurant and seeing beer coasters (or something like them) advertising some kind of "Win a free ticket" screening to LTK. Of course, as a Bond fan back then, I was glad to see the promotion....but upon reflection, I have to think that the 'casual' fan looked at such a promotion gimmick as "Oh, how the mighty have sunk!" or just generally viewed it as a crass, desperate advertising scheme.
And that's a shame because Dalton was wonderful in the role. Of course, I've voiced my (admittedly nitpicky) criticisms of his two films, but they are both very worthy entries into the 007 catalogue. Dalton sold me on him being Bond the minute he had 'words' with Saunders during Koskov's "defection." If that didn't sell me, the scene where he ambushes Pushkin in the general's hotel room certainly did. I think the last third (Afghanistan scenes) of the film falls prey to the "action upon action scenes" motif that was popular back then, and which made the " climax" inside Whitaker's battle room seem all the more anti-climatic.
As for LTK - despite my earlier criticisms of it totally wasting such a wonderful 'visual' opportunity of the Florida Keys, I do like the "twist" of Bond going rogue. On top of that, the fact he's not doing it because of some self-contained, contrived reason created just for the film, but doing it to revenge his best friend Felix, was not lost on (at least) me. (Good for you 007! And a heartfelt "FU!" to you, M!) Although the movie falls apart in the later half with such silliness as Wayne Newton as Professor Joe (not to mention the last-minute addition of Truman-Lodge and Heller just to create a "will they turn against the villain?" plot-points that seems to be a homage to the "convenient last-minute twist" elements that were prevalent in the Gardner novels at the time), I've always loved the brief scene during the runway gunfight in the PTS where Dalton just sort of "emerges" from the ground (it's seconds before he checks on Lupe's safety), the reaction of Krest while watching 007 slash through his cocaine shipment, as well as 007's "last second" escape from his underwater attackers. Not to mention the (minor) continuity "nod" of David Hedison playing Felix after all those years certainly didn't hurt, especially given the Felix-inspired 'revenge' plot.