TV Review - Dallas (2012)

Jesse Metcalfe (left) and
Josh Henderson in "Dallas" (2012)
The TV series Dallas premiered in 1978 on CBS and ran for 14 seasons. It stands as the third longest-running prime-time series after Gunsmoke and Law & Order. It won four Emmy Awards, including several for its music. It thrived in a time period where prime-time soap operas or family dramas could thrive on network television. Those days have long since passed. Network television today only allows for police, lawyer or medical procedure shows. Family dramas or evening soaps are rare. If a family drama pops up, it's relegated to cable TV. This is the case for writer-producer Cynthia Cidre's iteration, which debuted to great ratings on TNT on June 13.

Unlike the CW's reinvention of 90s soaps like 90210 and Melrose Place. This version of Dallas is a continuation of the CBS story with three of the key characters from three decades ago reprising their roles. Larry Hagman and Patrick Duffy return as brothers J.R. and Bobby Ewing. Linda Gray also returns as J.R.'s wife, Sue Ellen. It's almost as if the show had been on hiatus for 20 years and is now simply picking up where things left off. This TNT series could be considered the 15th season of the show but now the sibling rivalry that was at the heart of the show between J.R. and Bobby has been transferred to their children.

Jesse Metcalfe who made a name for himself in the first two seasons of Desperate Housewives stars as Christopher Ewing, the adopted son of Bobby. Christopher has a fiance named Rebecca, played by Julie Gonzalo (Veronica Mars and Eli Stone). Josh Henderson who also appeared on Desperate Housewives but in the third season co-stars as John Ross Ewing, the son of J.R. and Sue Ellen. Instead of brother against brother, it's cousin against cousin as Christopher and John Ross are put at odds with one another.

It's all over land. The show is again set primarily on the Southfork Ranch in Dallas, Texas. John Ross and his girlfriend, Elena Ramos, played by Jordana Brewster (The Faculty and The Fast and the Furious), discover that there is oil underneath Southfork. John Ross wants to drill and make a fortune off it. Christopher, however, discovers that doing so would cause environmental damage. John Ross knows that Bobby wants to get rid of the land because he doesn't want the feud that plagued he and J.R. to be passed down to their kids, so, in order to gain control, John Ross sets up a dummy company to buy the ranch under Bobby's nose.

Meanwhile, Bobby learns that he has a possible terminal cancer that his wife Ann Ewing, played by Brenda Strong, also from Desperate Housewives, wants him to disclose to Christopher but Bobby doesn't want to do that. J.R. was in a nursing home, presumed too old and too sick to leave, but the prospect of working with John Ross to get Southfork back, which he lost to Bobby 20 years ago, gets him up and walking. All the while, Sue Ellen is running for governor of Texas and giving loans to Elena for who knows what.

With all the connections to Desperate Housewives, it's worth noting that while this show isn't female-centered, it is still female-targeted, as all soap operas are. How do I know? In the premiere episode, both Metcalfe and Henderson are featured shirtless in nothing but their boxers, post-coitus, and the women who are there are both properly covered, not really showing any skin.

The TV ads and promos for this show underline the notion of backstabbing. By the end of the premiere, the grounds for a host of backstabbing had been laid. A bit of a mystery had also been established. It's not as great as the mystery of "Who Shot JR?" It's instead the mystery of who sent an email, which of course sounds like very compelling television. At least, Desperate Housewives kicked off with a crazy suicide.

Unlike most shows, the producers here do try to give the episodes a more cinematic look with sweeping shots of the beautiful Texas vistas. The horses and cattles either in wide shot or close-up are gorgeous. The title sequences features the iconic theme music, putting older viewers who remember the series right back into the Dallas frame of mind. Sadly, there isn't enough of a hook here to keep an uninitiated audience coming back for more. It's just a lot of the same.

Three Stars out of Five.
Rated TV-14-LSV.
Running Time: 1 hr.
Airs Wednesdays at 9PM on TNT.


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