Dallas, TNT, Wednesdays at 9 p.m. est
"Dallas" is back! It's like seeing an old friend again, one who you shared lots of good times with. Think back to the late 70's. It's Friday night. You're single in New York, and you're easing into the weekend. You get together with friends at someone's apartment: takeout, a few beers (etc.!) and the Ewing family on TV, before everyone rushes off into the night, to Xenon, Doubles, 54. "Dallas" is all part of that very memorable time of our lives.
Minus Jock, Miss Ellie and the hated Pam, the Ewings are all back, plus a new generation, and so are all the lies, betrayal and infighting that we loved so much in the original prime-time soap opera.
There is Bobby (Patrick Duffy), as clueless and self-righteous as ever; Sue Ellen (Linda Gray), long divorced from JR, but now with lots of money and a possible political career; even Lucy (Charlene Tilton) who, to be charitable, the years have not treated kindly, now married to Ray Krebbs (Steve Kanaly), the inscrutable ranch hand. The first episode even takes us to the Cattle Baron's Ball.
But still stealing every scene is Larry Hagman as J.R. With that cynical snicker and twinkling eyes, punctuated now with voluptuous eyebrows, he schemes and manipulates and, as evil and immoral as he is, you root for him shamelessly.
The revival opens with Bobby visiting a mute JR in what looks like a well-appointed psychiatric hospital, where he apparently is suffering from clinical depression. When Bobby kisses the top of his head and tells JR he has always loved him despite their differences, you want to shake Bobby and shout, "Won't you ever learn?"
So it's fun to see the older generation at it again, but the success of the new "Dallas" will rest on the new generation and that's where I have problems. The new antagonists will be Christopher (Jesse Metcalfe), Bobby's adopted son, and John Ross (Josh Henderson), a chip off the block, who thinks he's smarter than the old man, but isn't. For starters these boys look too much alike, both dark and TV handsome. Christopher has a more rugged look, and John Ross sports a mustache that screams, "I'm the bad one!"
Their antagonism is based on their opposing plans for the family's energy business. Predictably, Christopher wants renewable, and John Ross is "Drill, Baby, Drill." The jury is still out on whether this political proxy will be as fertile as their daddies' good vs. evil archetypes.
Of course, they are in a love triangle, as well, with Elena (Jordana Brewster), the daughter of Southfork's cook, who has transformed herself into a geologic expert. She looks to be the pivotal character and maybe the most interesting of this younger group.
I will definitely hang in for a few more episodes to see what happens next. Will Bobby die of cancer? Doubt it. Will they sell Southfork? Ridiculous. Will Elena end up with John Ross or the newly-married Christopher? Probably both! Will Sue Ellen be governor of Texas? If Sarah Palin could get elected, why not! Will JR gleefully screw each and every member of his family? A certainty!
Grade: Incomplete (But if you loved the original, it's worth watching at least a couple of episodes.)