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Back in 1991, when Dallas ended after a sensational 13 year run, we were left wondering whether JR Ewing had committed suicide in a finale reminscent of the movie "It's A Wonderful Life". The storyline was unsatisfactorily resolved in 2 weak reunion movies in the mid 1990's, both of which have been discarded from canon in this new exciting re-boot.
21 years after the show ended, TNT revitalised the epic Dallas, complete with those split screen credits and the dramatic theme tune that nobody will be unfamiliar with. Re-uniting the 3 mainstays of Dallas; Larry Hagman as JR Ewing, Linda Gray as his longsuffering wife Sue Ellen Ewing, and Patrick Duffy as his brother Bobby Ewing, Dallas picks up with so many contrivances that it's difficult to see how they can stretch it out over it's initial 10 week run.
JR Ewing, played with formidable gusto by the then 79 year old Larry Hagman, is holed up in a retirement home, having not spoken a word in quite a while. It is unexplained whether he has been non-verbal since 1991 or if it's a recent turn of events, but it certainly doesn't take him long to get back in on the action as his son John Ross Ewing enters into a new business with Uncle Bobby and adopted cousin Christopher Ewing. Before long, JR emulates the devil himself, with his dastardly deeds putting his family back in the firing line.
Meanwhile, Sue Ellen has remained sober since we last seen her, and is running for governor of Texas. Sue Ellen is a formidable force, played by the equally indomitable Linda Gray, who at last count was about a hundred years old but passing for 60. Aligning herself with her devious son, it isn't long before her own career is on the rocks courteousy of his indiscretions. Like father like son seems to be the spirit of this particular re-boot.
Bobby Ewing, the great undead, is reliably played by Patrick Duffy, who was only absent from the original series for one season when his wife dreamed his death for an entire year. There's barely a mention of Pam Ewing, the Juliet to his Romeo in those formative years. Bobby appears to have moved on from both his wives of the original series, marrying up to new wife Ann, played wonderfully by Desperate Housewives veteran Brenda Strong.
Among the newer cast, more veterans of Wisteria Lane come in the form of Josh Henderson, who is superb as Sue Ellen and JR's mischevious son John Ross. More bland, surprisingly, is Jesse Metcalfe as too-good-to-be-true cousin Christopher Ewing. Throw into the mix newcomers Julie Gonzalo and Fast & Furious veteran Jordana Brewster, and we're in for a bumpy ride as the bed-hopping of old kicks off.
Also thrown into the show, purely for nostalgia is original stars Charlene Tilton, Steve Kanaly and Ken Kercheval, all reprising their legendary character's for bit-parts in this revival. None get much to do in this first season, which is mainly focused on re-uniting its main 3 stars and a newer generation of back-biting Ewings. Quite how this family manage to stay in the same state, let alone in the same house (a remodelled Southfork much to the disgrace of the die-hard fanbase) is anybody's guess.
The focus isn't so much on oil this time around, as it is on methane, a new risky forward-thinking energy. Although, there is much infighting at Southfork over drilling on the sacred land that was promised to Bobby. Miss Ellie and Jock Ewing's name is dropped aplenty, as Bobby fights to uphold his mama's legacy whilst JR fights to trample all over it to make his late daddy proud.
Hagman, Gray and Duffy all steal this show, each bringing their own mark to character's that we've all followed in the original series. It is Josh Henderson who lives up to the promise as the prodigal son. The rest of the cast still have to find their groove as they wrestle in the shadow of the great original cast.
The show was originally created by David Jacobs, who gets a creator credit here. However, the baton is handed to Cynthia Cidre who does a great job of weaving twists and turns at a breakneck speed. Anything you think you've learned from one episode is quickly turned on its head for the next episode, as she aims to keep up with shows like Revenge on the current TV schedule. This makes for great TV, but of course doesn't have the same character development or time to play out storylines as the original series.
The look of the show is also epic, with great tracks of the landscape surrounding Southfork and the city of Dallas. This lends to the modern feel of the show, whilst giving a great nostalgic feel for fans who have missed the show for the past 21 years. The musical score is also epic, giving a real feel of western drama that was missing from the latter years of the original series as it descended into city-based soap.
The DVD is a great extension to the original 14 DVD set's that are aviable to buy. It has the full 10 episodes from the show, some making of documentary's and some shamefully cut scenes that should have made it into the 42 minute episodes.