Is it possible to go home again after being away for so long? That’s part of the premise and the challenge for TNT’s revived version of Dallas, which followed a whole new generation of Ewings plotting against each other with some surprisingly unexpected results.
Dallas followed the ever resourceful Ewing clan as they prepare their beloved SouthFork ranch for a wedding and to also be sold to the highest bidder. Bobby Ewing (Patrick Duffy) has been running the ranch for years now and decided to put it up for sale after he received a devastating diagnosis. His desire to sell his family’s ranch was to make sure that his son Christopher (Jesse Metcalfe) and his nephew John Ross (Josh Henderson) had a chance to have a real relationship. Sadly, Christopher and John Ross were destined to fight over SouthFork just like Bobby and his brother J.R. did decades ago. The battle for SouthFork began as soon as Bobby’s plans were revealed, which pitted him against his nephew from the start. What he didn’t expect was that John Ross was more like J.R. (Larry Hagman) than he cared to admit. Bobby tried to let his wife Ann (Brenda Strong) and his son live their own lives, but he might need their help to beat John Ross and J.R. at their own game. Will Bobby be able to hold onto SouthFork or lose it to J.R. forever?
When it comes to oil and schemes, no show did it better than Dallas. The original lasted for fourteen seasons and had some memorable plots that have stood the test of time. Viewers still talk about how shocking cliffhanger of J.R. getting shot and the shockingly bizarre “Bobby back from the dead” plot for very different reasons. TNT was wise to bring back original cast members Duffy, Hagman and Linda Gray to pay homage to the show that made them household names. In the first two episodes, Hagman and Duffy were perfectly blended in with the plot to take over SouthFork. Their presence made viewers remember J.R. and Bobby’s glory days fondly. Unfortunately, Gray’s character was forced to sit on the sidelines until the second episode when Sue Ellen came face-to-face with Hagman’s J.R. in a brief but unforgettable exchange. Let’s hope that the rest of the season has more scenes like that, instead of the lackluster triangle between Christopher, Elena (Jordana Brewster) and Rebecca (Julie Gonzalo). The reason that the triangle doesn’t work is because Brewster and Gonzalo have more chemistry with each other than they do with Metcalfe. It also didn’t help that Metcalfe looked like he still belonged in Wisteria Lane and not on SouthFork.
In terms of breakout performances, Hagman and Henderson proved to be a cut above the rest because of their convincing onscreen rapport as father and son. Whenever the two actors shared scenes together, viewers knew that trouble wasn’t far behind. The biggest pleasure came when Hagman and Henderson tried to outfox each other on-camera. Hagman conveyed his biggest schemes with a dark smile and a twinkle in his eye as he plotted revenge against John Ross. Henderson’s John Ross proved to be up for the challenge of beating his father at his own game. He designed John Ross to be a truly authentic Dallas resident who loved drilling for oil and beating everyone else at their own game. Unlike Metcalfe’s bland portrayal of Christopher, Henderson’s John Ross has been the driving force in the first two episodes as his schemes brought both generations of Ewings together with different purposes in mind. Hopefully, Metcalfe’s Christopher will develop a dark side as the season progresses, but Henderson’s John Ross has a definite early advantage in their onscreen rivalry. It’s too early to tell which character will be the winner, but viewers will enjoy the journey in the meantime.
Dallas premiered on June 13th and airs Wednesdays at 9:00 p.m. on TNT.
Verdict: Henderson and Hagman’s on-screen dynamic have made this version of Dallas worth watching each week.
TV Score: 4.5 out of 5 stars
1 Star (Mediocre)
2 Stars (Averagely Entertaining)
3 Stars (Decent Enough to Pass Muster)
4 Stars (Near Perfect)
5 Stars (Gold Standard)