This review contains some potential spoilers for the first two episodes of TNT's revived "Dallas."
If there was a world where everyone had a hidden agenda, that world would be located in Dallas, on a show called "Dallas," involving oil and a ranch named Southfork.
It makes sense to then bring such scheming back to the revival of "Dallas" on TNT -- but is it a little too much?
The continuation of the series that originally graced the airwaves of CBS from 1978 to 1991 premiered on its new home of TNT Wednesday night with a sexy new cast, and some faces of old for those fans who remember the original. The problem is, the more you watch, the more you realize that there is absolutely no one on this show that can be trusted.
Even the good-guy Bobby Ewing, reprised by Patrick Duffy, is keeping secrets. First, he hides what could be a deadly medical condition from his family, and then he decides at the very beginning to sell Southfork Ranch (which he won in a painful estate dispute from his older brother) not just to fund a questionable energy alternative program created by his adopted son, Christopher (Jesse Metcalfe), but also because he doesn't feel his son is strong enough to protect the home from the shenanigans of J.R. Ewing (Larry Hagman) or anyone else who might be sniffing around looking to make an extra buck.
And Bobby is right, J.R.'s son, John Ross (Josh Henderson) is a chip off the old block, picking up the almost evil scheming that his father was known for in the original series. And while his plans seemingly get a boost from J.R. himself, John Ross is not afraid to even screw over the master of the screw-over to get what he wants -- the billions of barrels of oil located underneath Southfork.
Don't worry, Sue Ellen is also there. Linda Gray reprises her devilish role as the ex-wife of J.R., who is now not only financially powerful despite J.R. losing his money, but also being courted to run for governor of Texas.
My days with the original "Dallas" were when I was made to sit and watch it on Friday nights with my mom, who absolutely adored the show. When I was younger, I didn't get a single thing that was going on, but as I got older, I come to respect and even admire some of the characters.
So it's good to see the mixing of the old cast with the new, and the story that Cynthia Cidre weaves is compelling enough to ask for more. But there is such a thing as too much, and with so many schemes going around, you almost need to start taking notes just to keep up.
The story moves with characters that made the original show great. And not just them -- imagine if J.R. and Bobby actually had someone above them pulling the strings.
Hagman has certainly seen better days (I was worried the 80-year-old actor would tumble over dead at any second), but he has not lost his touch at all when it comes to J.R. And even better, J.R. can now become a puppet master, allowing John Ross to do all the work, and then making sure he doesn't get double-crossed in the process.
Bobby is a strong patriarchal character, and comes off likable despite his own schemes. But then again, you can empathize with his motivations, while the moves of J.R. and John Ross are simply delicious.
It was also a good move to take filming back to Dallas. Much of the original series was actually filmed in California, and it felt that way many times. This is "Dallas," and it should be filmed in Dallas, and especially Southfork Ranch, which is now a conference center that capitalizes on its history as a setting for the original show.
WHAT DIDN'T WORK
So many characters, so many storylines, and not enough history. Don't get me wrong, I don't want a pilot bogged down in exposition like so many need to be, but there is a lot of history that we have to get caught up on, and while the show did do a decent job in giving us just what we needed to get into the current story, more history will need to be revealed, especially when the Barnes return.
While the action and story kept things moving at a swift pace (watching the second part was over before I even knew it), it had become confusing at times on who was doing what and to whom, mostly because some of the characters were not given a chance to be fully introduced before we were thrown other characters to consider as well.
This is a soap opera, even a 10-episode primetime one, so that should be expected. However, it's almost not worth alienating the audience that showed up for your premiere by giving them too much too early, to the point where they turn off their television set, scratching their head.
GIVING CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE
The first two episodes of "Dallas" were written by Cynthia Cidre and directed by Michael M. Robin. It starred Josh Henderson, Jesse Metcalfe, Jordana Brewster, Julie Gonzalo, Brenda Strong, Patrick Duffy, Linda Gray and Larry Hagman.
"Dallas" airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. ET on TNT.
About the Author