‘Dallas’ Series Premiere Review

Published 2 years ago by

The cast of Dallas TNT Dallas Series Premiere Review

When considering properties ripe for a reboot, revamp, or in this case, continuation, a 20-year-old property that had probably outstayed its initial welcome by carrying on for a whopping 14 seasons isn’t what one immediately thinks of as the next big thing. Like other recently revisited programs (the failed Charlie’s Angels comes to mind),Dallas proved to have risen above being a mere television program to become a part of the pop culture lexicon. It was so popular, in fact, that it spawned imitators, each successful in their own right, like Dynasty and Falcon Crest, and certainly played a part in the creation of equally transcendent programs like Beverly Hills 90210 and Melrose Place.

So from that perspective, it’s easy to understand why Dallas, and more importantly, the ever-feuding Ewings and their Southfork Ranch, could be considered worth another visit. The trick, however, isn’t just putting the appropriate pieces in place for there to be a truly loyal update of such a beloved series. The real concern is whether or not this new generation of Ewings - namely, Christopher (Jesse Metcalfe) and John Ross (Josh Henderson) – can help usher in a new level of decadent trashiness that helped the series’ initial run become so immensely popular.

What initially started out in the late ’70s as a somewhat gaudy television version of Romeo & Juliet, set against the sweeping backdrop of Texas oil, quickly became the poster child for glamorizing the excess and extravagances of the wealthy and the frequently crazy things they would do to one another in the pursuit of more wealth. As the show progressively became more of a soap opera, one character in particular began to stand out: J.R. Ewing (Larry Hagman). His embodiment of a duplicitous oil magnate quickly became the centerpiece for the entire series, and, in fact, the finale revolved entirely around whether or not he would commit suicide. But now, thanks in part to a few television movies, and this TNT revival, J.R. is revealed to still be alive, though not particularly well. Whether or not that’s a suitable description of this new Dallas may depend on how deep it’s willing to dig into its old bag of tricks.

Right off the bat, this Dallas wants to set up John Ross (J.R. Jr. – if you hadn’t already made that connection) as every bit the conniving antagonist his father was. Here, we are introduced to John Ross as he and his girlfriend Elena Ramos (Jordana Brewster) strike oil in Southfork. Not just some oil, though – enough to make the Ewings wealthier than they could ever imagine. The trouble is, when the Ewing matriarch, Miss Ellie, passed away, she forbade future drilling for oil. As a sure sign of the times, oil in 2012 Dallas takes on something of a boogeyman role, a one-time means to an end that is now largely avoided – not unlike Hagman’s near-comatose J.R.

But the promise of more Ewing oil is enough to resurrect not only old feuds and feelings of ownership and control, but also to effectively raise J.R. out of his clinical depression in order to play puppet master to his son’s ambitions of ruling the empire. Naturally, there must be an idyllic Ewing yin to John Ross’ yang, and so we’re introduced to Bobby’s (Patrick Duffy) son Christopher, who is home from Asia where he researches – what else? Alternative energy. Unlike John Ross, however, Christopher isn’t home to partake in any drilling on Ewing land; he’s actually getting married to Rebecca Sutter (Julie Golanzo).

Jesse Metcalfe Julie Golanzo Josh Henderson Jordana Brewster Dallas Series Premiere Review

And then, as the two younger Ewings face off at the dinner table about the future of oil vs. alternative forms of energy (it turns out Christopher is actively pursuing the capture of methane from the ocean floor), Dallas finally begins to feel like the Dallas of old. The burgeoning feud between Christopher and John Ross initially seems to be a battle over beliefs, but it really started some time ago. It seems Elena and Christopher were to be married, but they split up the very day of their nuptials. Christopher fled to Asia, while Elena eventually sought comfort in the arms of John Ross while in Mexico. Adding fuel to the fire, we learn pretty early on that Christopher isn’t a biological Ewing – rather, he was sold by a family that no longer wanted him, according to a bitter John Ross.

In addition to all of that smoldering tension between past and present lovers, Dallas also throws in the curveball of Bobby having cancer, but he keeps it from his family long enough to reveal his plans to sell Southfork to a conservancy in order to ensure the land doesn’t fall into misuse.

Of course, the pending sale of Southfork acts as the appropriate catalyst for the Ewings to quickly get back to lying, cheating and stealing – well, J.R., anyway. The elder Ewing plays his hand late in the first episode, revealing the potential conservator of Southfork, Marta Del Sol (Leonor Varela), to be in his employ. Initially, it all seems to have wrapped up too easily – especially for an old man who was all but unconscious for the majority of the show. Thankfully, Dallas is willing to go the full J.R. and reveal John Ross to be the true conspirator. The apple certainly doesn’t fall far from the tree when it comes to an unquenchable thirst for wealth and power.

Saying that Dallas works isn’t too much of a surprise. After all, it’s only real obstacle was getting the audience up to date of what had transpired over the last 20 or so years; the rest was pretty much business as usual. While Metcalfe and Henderson look every bit the posh, privileged youngsters battling to make the Ewing name mean something for a new generation, there was something genuine missing in both performances. Perhaps it’s too soon to be comparing one Dallas to another, but there was a feeling of – and pardon the expression – richness about the Dallas of old. And, if a network is going to continue a series with such a well-known history, any comparisons, regardless of when they’re made, should be expected.

Linda Gray Brenda Strong Dallas TNT Dallas Series Premiere Review

Right now, though, without the likes of Val, Gary, Ray and Cliff Barnes – or some updated analogs – Dallas feels a little empty. It’s like The CW has moved into Southfork, and while they look good, they haven’t quite mastered what it means to be Ewings. Thankfully, Hagman hasn’t lost an ounce of his snake-like charm, and Duffy remains as earnest as he ever was.

On another bright side, the site of two Sue Ellens (Dallas’ Linda Gray and Brenda Strong, who played Sue Ellen Mischke on Seinfeld) side-by-side was good for a laugh. If anyone is going to replace Pam Ewing, the former heiress to the Oh Henry! candy bar fortune is a pretty good find. Besides, Strong’s Ann Ewing seems ready to dispense a little Texas justice, so Southfork is likely just fine in her care.

In the end, any time an old property gets dusted off, the question becomes: Did we need this? In the case of Dallas, the answer is: No. Heck, we weren’t even asking for it. But since the creators didn’t attempt to reinvent the wheel (just take it around the track a few more times), the whole thing can be chalked up to no harm, no foul. Ultimately, this Dallas rebirth is as unimpressive as it is inoffensive – the two work to sort of cancel each other out.

If you’re feeling the need to take in a little prime-time soap that isn’t dripping in irony, then Dallas will certainly fit the bill. It worked for 14 seasons, so TNT is likely guessing they can bring up a few more before the well actually does run dry.

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Dallas airs Wednesdays @9pm on TNT.

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19 Comments

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  1. Surprisingly, I genuinely enjoyed it. Lots of plot twists and the original cast members have fallen comfortably back into character as if they never left. The people producing this show are clearly fans, from the retro opening to the final plot twist revelation and close up of good ol’ JR fuming! It’s fun, people should give this one a shot.

  2. +1 ~Stark

  3. Loved it – nice change to all of the garbage that is on tv now…..

  4. I used to watch the original with my grandparents when I was a kid. Well, I liked watching the intro and singing along to the themesong.

    Anyway, I went over to my grandparents’ last night and we watched it just like old times, haha. And pretty much everybody dug it! JR needs to trim those eyebrow hairs, though!

  5. I REALLY ENJOYED IT AND THINK THAT IT WILL BE A HIT, PARTICULARLY AMONG THE BABY BOOMER CLASS. LOOK FORWARD TO MANY MORE EPISODES.

  6. I love j.r.
    Wish he was president
    Cant wait to see him unleash a viscous sh%tstorm
    Him bobby and sue ellen. The rest meh but I will watch if only to see the lord of all things good, J.R. F%cking Ewing

    • Maybe ‘W’ will make a Guest Appearance – as he lives nearby

  7. I like a show that always keeps you guessing, and the “New” Dallas does just that. Reminds me or Revenge where nothing is as it seems.

  8. Original cast members prove that they can still act.

    New kids can’t act. And they all look alike.

  9. “…another bright side, the site of two Sue Ellens…”
    Are they web-mistresses?

  10. I’m glad it’s back, certainly works for me, being a long time fan since day 1. But John Ross is a scum bag…in every sense of the word. J.R. was a great villain because he was likeable on different levels, and intelligent. John Ross is overacted by Henderson (who doesn’t deserve the title lead role), he is nothing like what the character should be — spoiled, educated, rich, and respectful of Miss Elle. The writers screwed this part up, and will ultimately lead fans less interested in the show. Otherwise, it’s a perfect return.

  11. I would hope that the plan is to develop the Jon Ross character as the series goes on. Remember, in the first episode he blamed his mother for not allowing him to be mentored by his father all these years. He is simply trying to prove himself, and gain the respect he mistakenly believes he deserves. How better to accomplish that than beating out his Uncle AND dear old Dad. JR may be stubborn but he knows he won’t live forever and each battle between Father and Son is a lesson for Jon Ross. JR will teach jim what it means to be a Ewing oil man or kill the kid trying!

  12. I would hope that the plan is to develop the Jon Ross character as the series goes on. Remember, in the first episode he blamed his mother for not allowing him to be mentored by his father all these years. He is simply trying to prove himself, and gain the respect he mistakenly believes he deserves. How better to accomplish that than beating out his Uncle AND dear old Dad. JR may be stubborn but he knows he won’t live forever and each battle between Father and Son is a lesson for Jon Ross. JR will teach him what it means to be a Ewing oil man or kill the kid trying!

  13. I remember not only watching with my parents & siblings.Dallas when it premiere & it’s spin-off Knots Landing. back as a kid. later I miss several of the episodes.Glad that TNT in the 90′s began to run the reruns of Dallas & Knots Landing.since I too am named after my dad & my family stills call me JR.I identify myself with Larry Hagman’s Character the Evil JR Ewing.I’m a little manipulative too.lol!also Have 2 younger brothers then found out too.I have a half brother from my dad’s side.I like the Premiere with the last scene as always was a surprise ending.cool!hope they bring Gary Ewing & Val if not permanent as a recurring role with their Kids.also I was happy to see Ray Krebbs(Ewing).JR,Gary & Bobby’s half Brother & Gary & Val’s eldest Lucy Ewing.make an appearance.

  14. I am not SURE if Dallas on TNT is Any ‘Good’ – It is a ‘Soap Opera’ and knows it and PLAYS it That Way. But I watched the first two episodes and sure enjoyed seeing J.R. come back from the DEAD. I wasn’t even a FAN of the Original but because I was ALIVE on This Planet I know Bobby and J.R and Miss Ellie’s South-fork so its FUN seeing them again.

  15. Dallas is awesome, and glad it’s back!! BUT!!!!!! Kevin Yeoman needs to do better research. Despite what he wrote, we didn’t learn that Christoper was adopted (he wasn’t sold by a family that didn’t want him; technically Bobby offered to take him away), there was oil under Southfork and lots of it…all of which we already knew prior to Dallas 2012. The writing on this series stinks already with lots of inaccuarcies, and very poor character development. Namely, John Ross! He is nothing like J.R., and they are trying way too hard to make him be J.R. J.R. had personality and charm….this John Ross is a complete scum bag. John Ross was the pride grandson of the Ewings, who was spoiled by Miss Ellie and the Ewings, was put in good schooling, and eventually had no interest in the oil business….yet now he is a wild-catter (makes no sense what so ever), sounds like a moron, and is completely over acted. Everything that Christopher is in this series is what John Ross should have been. There are a lot of unexplained gaps in the first 2 episodes that it’s not giving the show the genuine uniqueness and smarts it hard in the original series. I’m disappointed in the writing and John Ross. And, by the way, Jock promised Ellie’s father he wouldn’t drill for oil…not Jock promising Ellie. And, where is Jock’s portrait!?!?!? I love the series, just get the series canon right.

  16. This show lived up to its billing. I was scared at first, but WOW! This has more action in one episode than five or six of the old shows. I think this generation demands it. Instead of JR being the bad guy, I think Cliff and his daughter will take that role and Bobby will be the heir to Jock. Way to go Dallas!

  17. Rebecca is pathetic. Get her off the series pls!!!!!!!!!!!! She acts like she is in a cheap soap-opera.

  18. Well now we are in to the 2nd season, seems a good many people like it.

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