It’s hard to believe that the original night time southern soap opera of love, hate, trust and betrayal is now 34 years old. Dallas was a guilty pleasure for millions of Americans before that term had even been invented.
While I may have been too young to have enjoyed this series when it was brand new I do have very fond memories of watching reruns with my grandmother who would always very patiently explain the intricacies of the on screen relationships to me. At a time when I was used to watching cartoons like He-Man, Transformers and Thundercats where the battle between good and evil was clearly delineated, Dallas was my first taste of the grey area between right and wrong and between friend and foe.
One of the things that made the original Dallas stand apart from similar shows of its time were the relationships between its wealthy but fragmented family members. The Ewing’s were all oil tycoons but were split between the money hungry eldest son J.R. Ewing (Larry Hagman) and the more benevolent, magnanimous younger son Bobby Ewing (Patrick Duffy).
Now, as TNT brings this story back to life in 2012 we find that very little has changed in Dallas; the premiere episode, very aptly titled The Changing of the Guard introduces us to the Ewing’s progeny and the future of what could be another long running television series.
Josh Henderson stars as John Ross, the son of J.R. and Sue Ellen Ewing. As one would expect it’s clear that John Ross shares more in common with his father than just his initials. By the end of the first episode we can see that John Ross may even be more manipulative and devious than his legendary father! (If you can imagine that)
Playing the younger ‘Bobby’ to John Ross’ younger J.R. is Jesse Metcalfe as Christopher, Bobby’s adopted son. Much like his father, Christopher is trying his best to do the right thing in the middle of incredibly tempting circumstances and of course finds himself toe-to-toe with his cousin fighting, not only for the future of the family ranch Southfork, but quite possibly for the future of mankind’s dependence on oil as an energy source.
The stakes are definitely higher than you’d imagine but that doesn’t stop the show from jumping right into the petty family squabbles that we all love to watch. By the 23rd minute mark of the first episode I had been completely drawn in and knew I was in for a delicious viewing experience.
As with the original series you have to pay close attention to what’s happening and having a nearby family tree as a cheat sheet might not be a bad idea just so you’ll be able to keep up with who is betraying whom and why. You can absolutely come into this series as a complete Dallas virgin, but if you’re like me, you enjoy noticing all of the subtle nods to the audience and references to the past so be sure to keep alert while watching!
Much like back in the old days, Dallas refuses to end an episode without revealing at least one shocking revelation that will help hold the audiences’ attention and keep them guessing as to the consequences of that fact for an entire week.
The key to the success of a show like this hasn’t changed over the last few decades. People have to be talking about it. This used to mean that in the morning following a new episode people would huddle around the water cooler at work to discuss what had happened and speculate as to what was to come. In the digital age it means people are facebooking and tweeting their reactions immediately after seeing it. In both cases it means the same thing; people are talking. And as long as people are talking it means they are watching and eagerly anticipating more. If this new version of Dallas can achieve that in even a fraction of the way that the original did, this show could be on the air for years! And from what I’ve seen so far, they have a good shot at doing it.
One of the things that I’m sure people will be talking about, aside from all of the plot twists and back stabbing, is how ridiculously HOT the new cast members are! I mean where has Josh Henderson been hiding? He could very well turn out to be one of the hottest, sexiest actors on TV. And Jesse Metcalfe is no slouch either. These boys clearly buffed up for their roles and are more than ready for their shower close ups, their pugilistic brawls and of course their good old fashion southern skinny dipping scenes!
Other series that have tried to reboot and failed all made the same mistake which was not heavily involving the cast members and characters from the shows’ original run. Dallas very wisely makes Bobby, Sue Ellen & J.R. pivotal characters in this reboot. It’s not all about the pretty kids and the new faces. The heart of the show is still what it was all those years ago when it first began. This version is simply continuing where they left off after its’ 14 season run came to an end in 1991; which is probably why there was no need to change or alter the title.
Fans of the original will also be pleased to hear that they haven’t changed the opening title sequence or the classic theme. That, along with how well it continues the story while at the same time modernizing for a new generation of viewers, makes this the perfect reboot of a timeless American show!
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