When word hit a few weeks ago that television actor Larry
Hagman had passed away, I was genuinely upset.
Not only is Hagman one of the few actors that actually
manages to transcend his medium – but he also seemed like a really nice guy.
Hagman had been out of the limelight for more than a decade
when TNT decided to relaunch ‘Dallas’ last year. I was understandably dubious
about the endeavor – especially when I heard that the vapid Jesse Metcalf and
Jordana Brewster were going to be a part of it.
Let’s be honest, Metcalf isn’t exactly a great actor and Brewster
is overshadowed by just about everyone – including Paul Walker and Vin Diesel
(not Oscar winners themselves) on a regular basis.
Still, I tuned in, and from the minute I heard that familiar
television song I was hooked.
TNT approached the show in a smart way. It made the younger
generation of Ewings – particularly Christopher (Metcalf) and John Ross (Josh
Henderson) – the focal point of the new show’s shenanigans. It also brought
back favorites like Hagman, Patrick Duffy and Linda Gray as part of the regular
In addition to the main three, several familiar faces from
the television show’s past also dropped by for visits – most notably Ken
Kercheval and Charlete Tilton.
The new ‘Dallas’ formula worked because Christopher and John
Ross’ battle was really Bobby and J.R.’s battle – and the adults were often
waging it through their sons. Despite the animosity, though, the old family
loyalty was also there. This was witnessed when John Ross was beaten up in
prison and Bobby ran to his rescue in the first season, and this season when
Bobby’s wife was arrested for shooting her ex-husband and J.R. promised to help
Bobby solve the problem.
Hagman had been in ill health for years, but his death still
took most people by surprise. No one
realized he was at death’s door.
The past two episodes of ‘Dallas’ haven’t exactly flowed
properly, but I think most fans (myself included) understand what the producers
were going through with Hagman’s death. I’m looking forward to Monday’s episode
– where we get to embark on another “Who Shot J.R.?” mystery.
This version of ‘Dallas’ isn’t perfect. Metcalf and Brewster
are bland as can be. However, Henderson’s John Ross is a hilarious amalgam of
his mother and father. Julie Gonzalo has also been a hoot as Cliff Barnes’ devious
daughter – who is now carrying Christopher’s twins – while burning up the
sheets with John Ross.
The story that has surprised me the most, though, is the
gripping tale of Ann Ewing (Bobby’s wife) and her discovery that her daughter
didn’t disappear from a county fair years ago like she thought. Instead, the
girl (The Walking Dead’s Emma Bell) was kidnapped and raised by her father, a
deliciously evil Mitch Pileggi (The X-Files).
I think ‘Dallas’ has an imposing task ahead. Keeping viewers
interested in the show following Hagman’s passing. It’s no secret that that the
TNT drama’s second season ratings haven’t been stellar. I think the reason for
that, though, is because TNT messed with a good thing. In other words, TNT
shouldn’t have launched the show in the middle of winter when there was a glut
of other programming on Monday nights. They should have kept it as addictive
I think the new ‘Dallas’ can survive – but it’s really a
wait and see game. I know I am looking forward to the parade of past ‘Dallas’
characters returning to the show for Monday’s installment – which features the
funeral of J.R. Ewing.
What do you think? Can ‘Dallas’ survive without J.R.?