The original Dallas ran on CBS for 14 seasons, from 1978 until 1991. It was the best of the night-time soap genre, and had dozens of copy cats like Falcon Crest, as well as Knots Landing, a highly successful spin-off. Those 14 seasons saw the Ewing family back stabbing, cheating, stealing, divorcing, re-marrying, committing adultery and one of the most watched episodes in television history, when all the world tuned in to find out who shot JR. JR Ewing was the bad boy America loved to hate, and when we found out that his former mistress, Kristen, who also happened to be his sister-in-law, shot him; well, who could blame her? At the end of 14 seasons, JR was finally bested. His arch rival, Cliff Barnes had finally taken over Ewing Oil, we saw JR broken, dejected, and in a mental hospital.
Fast forward to 2012, when Dallas was resurrected by Cynthia Cidre and Warner Brothers Television cable giant TNT. In a world filled with reality shows, celebrity music competitions and the train wreck that is the Kardashians, Dallas was a pretty risky proposition. TNT viewed the pilot episode and ordered a full season. Dallas premiered on June 13, 2012, and was quickly renewed for a second season. The second season was enough of a hit to convince TNT to renew the show for a third season that premiered on February 24, 2014.
The success of Dallas can be pinned to a perfect blend of the past and the present. From the past we have Patrick Duffy as good guy Bobby Ewing, Linda Grey as drunken ex-wife Sue Ellen, Ken Kercheval as the ever-present nemesis Cliff Barnes, and of course, Larry Hagman as JR. Hagman’s death, on November 23, 2012, was written into the show.This was a smart move by the series creators, as there is not another actor that would have been able to fill Hagman’s boots as JR Ewing.
What drove the original Dallas was sibling rivalry; good boy Bobby Ewing versus older brother JR for control of the oil company their Daddy, Jock had founded. In the newer edition, it is Bobby’s adopted son Christopher duking it out with JR and Sue Ellen’s son John Ross. In just the third season, John Ross and Christopher have both been married to the same woman, who just happens to be Cliff Barnes daughter.Yes, it sure seems that the more things change in Dallas, the more they stay the same.
What really makes this version of Dallas remarkable is the young stars that are truly shining. Jesse Metcalfe of Desperate Housewives fame, and Jordana Brewster of The Fast and the Furious franchise play star-crossed lovers Christopher Ewing and daughter of the maid Elena Ramos. The two have good chemistry and the plot twists have kept them apart and thrown them back together enough to make your head spin, but they are taking the back seat to the true stars of this era of Dallas: Julie Gonzalo and Josh Henderson. Gonzalo, who came to the United States at age eight from her native Argentina, is breathtaking as Pamela Rebecca Barnes. She was mesmerizing during a plot line that saw her lose her unborn twins at the hands of her father; few actresses could have shown the depth of emotion that Gonzalo brought to that story. While sex on a stick Josh Henderson had been playing John Ross as a smarmy bad boy, it was that same plot line where Henderson began to bring his A game to Dallas. Henderson also stole the show in the episode where JR Ewing was laid to rest; his emotions, be they real, at the loss of an actor who had taken Henderson under his wing, or be they the emotions of John Ross at the loss of his father, were a revelation. In this age of over the top, too much, too fast, Henderson was understated and completely believable.
The third season of Dallas is heating up Monday nights on TNT. If you haven’t been watching you should…you can watch current episodes on the official Dallas webpage, and Netflix has Season 1 of Dallas available to stream, so it’s not too late to catch up on the best guilty pleasure around.
[Image courtesy TNT.com]