Thursday, June 14, 2012

Return to Southfork

Yes, "Dallas" is back. And, shock of all shocks, the return to Southfork last night was a hell of a lot of fun.

TNT has resurrected the popular 1978-91 CBS drama, which at one time was the runaway most popular show in the world. It drew me in, just like millions of others, mainly for one reason and one reason only: Larry Hagman's portrayal of John Ross "J.R." Ewing Jr. The fact that he never won an Emmy is a travesty.
Hagman (at age 80!) is back as J.R., as are Patrick Duffy as good brother Bobby and Linda Gray as J.R.'s ex-wife Sue Ellen.

Most of the action has shifted to the next generation. J.R.'s son John Ross (Josh Henderson) and Bobby's son Christopher (Jesse Metcalfe) have pretty much taken over where their daddies left off. John Ross is drilling for oil on Southfork -- a big no-no that his grandmother would never have allowed -- while Christopher is trying to come up with a way to tap an alternative energy source. Bobby is trying to sell Southfork, has a new (to us) wife and is fighting a few rounds with cancer.

Meanwhile, Christopher is getting married to Rebecca (Julie Gonzalo), but he's still in love with John Ross's girl Elena, played by the insanely beautiful Jordana Brewster. The boys get into a fistfight just like their daddies used to do in the original show's halcyon days. Even Steve Kanaly and Charlene Tilton show up.

Yep, the series is actually filmed in Dallas. And that theme still blares over the opening credits.

Sure, it isn't the same without Jim Davis and Barbara Bel Geddes, but then again, both have been dead for awhile. Davis died when the original series was in its heyday.

I do hope Ken Kercheval makes an appearance or two as Cliff Barnes because "Dallas" wouldn't be "Dallas" without him.

But, if the first two episodes are any indication, this is going to be great. There were enough double-crosses to fill Jerry Jones's football stadium (which makes a cameo), enough plot twists to keep things interesting and just enough "Dallas" panache to make this thing work. Heck, tonight's two hours were better than virtually anything that aired during the original series's last couple of seasons.

Even as an octogenarian, Hagman can play J.R. in his sleep. Duffy is the perfect foil. Gray's Sue Ellen may have finally come into her own. The kids ain't bad, either.

Give the best one-liners to J.R. -- as it always was and should forever be.

Spending time at Southfork is a lot of fun. I'd forgotten just how much I'd missed it.

"Dallas" airs 9 p.m. (Eastern) Wednesdays on TNT.

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