Review – Dallas
Dallas – TNT – 9:00/8:00pm Wednesday – USA
With primetime soap-operas back in vogue thanks to the deliciously dopey Revenge what better time for Dallas, the show that essentially invented the genre, to be given a chance to make a splashy return. Cable network TNT has bet big on the Ewing family and their rich-people problems and the early results look to have paid off. This reboot not only tries to please old fans by resurrecting some familiar faces, but it also tries to rope in some new ones with a handful of younger, prettier faces. I was eight when Dallas went off the air so outside of a few broad strokes (I believe some gentleman named J.R. may have been shot at some point) I go into the new Dallas relatively free of expectations.
That being said, it’s not like the remnants of the old series aren’t easy to pick up on. Anybody over the age of fifty is probably hanging around from the 80s, and that super-old fashioned opening credit sequence obviously pays homage to the original. Dallas does everything it can in its pilot to establish that it’s the old series but with some new blood. Jesse Metcalfe and Josh Henderson play Christopher and J.R. junior respectively, two rival cousins with very different ideas about the energy business. Christopher has been researching clean, alternative energies, while John Ross junior is obviously his father’s son and is an oil man through and through. John Ross has been drilling on Ewing land, and as we hear time and time again, Bobby (Patrick Duffy) doesn’t want nobody drilling for oil on his mamma’s land.
All of the energy talk gives the first episode of Dallas a completely goofy vibe, like we’re in a bad disaster movie and half an act away from the city of Dallas being hit by an asteroid. It especially feels that way when Christopher discovers that his alternative energy scheme has possibly been causing earthquakes in China. While it’s important to establish the clear rivalry between these young guns and their fathers all of the energy business is a lot of talk about nothing and time spent listening to Christopher explain his new alternative energy scheme is time that would be better spent with characters bitching behind each other’s backs and plotting revenge. The pilot drags for most of its length and only really kicks into gear in the final ten minutes where a few good twists and turns are thrown into the mix.
Despite having no real history with the character of J.R., Larry Hagman’s presence hangs heavy over the first episode even though he’s mostly kept off to the side. The moment when J.R. donned that famous hat of his gave the episode a real kick in the pants and I say that as somebody who hadn’t watched that hat for ten years, so I can only imagine how a true fan felt. Unfortunately small moments like that, and the twists the show throws forth in the dying minutes of the episode, don’t save what was otherwise a rather drab affair.
While the pilot sure does look gorgeous, with its beautiful sweeping shots of ranches and the great Texas countryside, the human side of things is a bit of a drag. Hopefully this is first episode jitters, and the show just got bogged down trying to overcompensate for having to welcome back old friends and introduce itself to newcomers. As we’ve seen from Revenge, there is definitely room on the television landscape for some big silly soap-opera fun, but Dallas needs to do some stretches before it gets back into the game because most of this first hour was dreadfully boring. Maybe the show just needs somebody to shoot J.R. to liven things up; I hear that’s worked in the past.
Good, Alright, Bad Or Ugly?