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The Return of Dallas and the Ewing Family

A Review of TNT’s “Dallas” Reboot by Tiffany A. White

Welcome to Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday!  Every week, I’ll review a television show that I believe to be worth a watch (and sometimes not).

Today, I’ve selected a program that has me on the edge of my seat for its 2013 premiere.  One of the most anticipated programs of last year was the continued story of the duel between the members of the Ewing family.  And trust me when I say the new Dallas does not disappoint!  TNT has successfully revived the popular soap opera that ran from the late ‘70s to the early ‘90s, even mirroring the original’s opening as best they could.  The twists and turns of this series kept the original’s legacy intact, and I can’t wait to see what the writers have in store for us in season two.

Back in the day, we watched the great sibling rivalry between J.R. and Bobby Ewing…

We had J.R. (Larry Hagman), the cut-throat oil-tycoon who would stop at nothing to earn his next riches, and Bobby (Patrick Duffy), the more family oriented and rule-following of Miss Ellie’s boys.  And because of these tendencies, Miss Ellie bequeaths Southfork to Bobby, leaving J.R. with a sour taste in his mouth.

The new series begins with a little bit of backstory: J.R.’s wife, Sue Ellen (Linda Gray), has left him.  The Texas courts awarded her all of J.R.’s money, making her one of the most successful women in Dallas (and she may even run for Governor).   Since Bobby lives at and runs Southfork, J.R. has nothing.  These events cause him to fall into a deep depression and someone, we’re assuming Bobby, puts J.R. up in a nice retirement community.

Speaking of Bobby, he’s now married to Ann (Brenda Strong), and is suffering from a recent diagnosis of intestinal cancer.  He decides to sell Southfork—the only requirement being that whoever buys the ranch must continue with Miss Ellie’s wish to not drill on her property.  And like the “Good Ol’ Boy” he is, Bobby settles the deal with a handshake.

But what about these younger Ewing boys we keep hearing so much about?  Fast-forward twenty years, and the Ewing family is still going strong, bickering included, only with two new faces: John Ross, played by Josh Henderson, and Christopher, played by Jesse Metcalf.

Let’s start with John Ross…

While secretly drilling on Southfork, John Ross and his girlfriend/business partner (Elena, played by Jordana Brewster) hit oil.  But when Bobby finds out about it, he forbids anyone from drilling on his mamma’s ranch.  This prompts John Ross to act just like his daddy.  After all, “he’s a chip off the old block.”  Lying, cheating, and backstabbing seem to be John Ross’s methods of choice—but does he have what it takes to outplay J.R.?

And then we have Christopher, sweet and idealistic Christopher…

Christopher runs Ewing Alternative Energies where he researches and experiments with methane drilling.  Unfortunately, his work appears to have caused earthquakes off the coast of China, and while he commits to finding a way to protect the people and preserve the methane, John Ross is the first to point out his cousin’s failures.  Skipping his honeymoon with Rebecca (Julie Gonzalo), Christopher decides to change his daddy’s mind about selling Southfork—but will Bobby listen?

Before we wrap, let’s not forget to mention the soap opera element.  The Dallas reboot is definitely still a soap opera with a serial drama element similar to the original.

First, we have the business partnerships between John Ross and Elena, Christopher and Elena, and Sue Ellen and Elena.  Surely one if not more of these are going to blow up in their faces, specifically Elena’s.  And let’s stay on the topic of Elena for a second.  Elena is the daughter of the Ewing’s long-time cook and Christopher’s former girlfriend/fiancée.  But when she received a supposed email from Christopher ending their relationship the night before their wedding, she ran away to Mexico and into the waiting arms of John Ross.

Oh, but it doesn’t stop there.  At John Ross’s suggestion, and knowing full well of Christopher and Elena’s past, Rebecca asks Elena to stand up for her at her and Christopher’s wedding.  That’s only the first sign we see that Rebecca may not be as sweet as she appears.  When we meet Rebecca’s brother, we deduce that they have been planning to scam the Ewing family for a few years now—but why?  This just happens to be one of those fantastic twists I alluded to earlier in the post…

There’s really so much more to season one, I just don’t want to give everything away.  So how does Dallas rank?  This TNT drama ranks right up there with the original—it’s a guilty pleasure; it’s not perfect, but it satisfies all of our bizarre TV cravings.  The final seconds of the season finale left me with my jaw dropped to the floor—I did not see that twist coming!  The writers and creators have definitely done the Dallas fans proud with this reboot, and I can’t wait for more!

*****

Tiffany A. White is the author of the YA mystery “Football Sweetheart” series.  She blogs at The Ooo Factor and is available for contact via Twitter at @Tiffany_A_White, Facebook at Tiffany A. White, or by email at tiffany@tiffanyawhite.com.

© 2013 Tiffany A. White. All written content on this page is protected by copyright. If you would like to use any part of this, please contact me at the above links to request permission.


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