“Dallas” was originally a classic brother vs. brother rivalry story, akin to the well-known tales of Jacob and Esau or Cain and Abel, but on Southfork Ranch, in the splendor of Texas oil money, it was J.R. and Bobby who were engaged in the eternal struggle. The re-tooled “Dallas” hasn’t veered too far from the original formula that worked so well – continuing the brothers’ fight for dominance through their sons, the heirs apparent to the Southfork throne and bringing what remains of the former glory days into a new century for a new generation. Here’s a look at what’s changed and what’s stayed the same in the revamped version of America’s original guilty prime time pleasure.
J.R., Sue Ellen and Bobby are all back with a vengeance, and Larry Hagman, Linda Gray and Patrick Duffy have picked up these iconic characters again with relish.
“I think that, for me, it was a seamless time warp,” Gray said about stepping back into Sue Ellen’s devious high heels. “I can remember that last day on the set, and absolutely, if you said there was to be 20 years in between, I wouldn’t have believed that because to walk back on set and back onto Southfork and back on the set with my friends was a seamless transition. I didn’t feel an ending or a beginning. It was just like we seamlessly moved into the new series.”
Taking up the mantle of scheming Southfork rivalries is a crop of young blood that includes the tasty Jesse Metcalf and Josh Henderson, both of whom have jumped seamlessly from Wisteria Lane to Southfork. Another cross-over from “Desperate Housewives” is Brenda Strong, playing Bobby’s new wife, Ann. The rest of the glossy, new cast is rounded out with a bevy of fresh, shining faces – and bodies – that do not disappoint when it comes to delivering healthy doses of sex and scintillating conniving that do the aging Ewing generation proud.
“Dallas” picks up with J.R. kicking it in a retirement home, having lost Ewing oil and most of his millions. The downtrodden villain is pulled out of his twilight stupor by news that his baby brother Bobby has put the old homestead up for sale. That news is just what the salty schemer needs to get back in the underhanded, vindictive saddle.
In true “Dallas” style, J.R. and Bobby continue their legendary rivalry through their sons and once again no one knows who to trust. J.R.’s son, John Ross is battling Bobby and his do-gooder son Christopher for rights to drill Southfork for oil. John Ross sees the black gold as his birthright, but Christopher is pushing for the family to embrace alternative energy. It’s a true 21st century stand-off, and no doubt it will be a rollicking good time watching this new generation of Ewings tussle for control.
But it’s not just the menfolk who get to have all the fun this time around – the ladies of Southfork are given a whole lot more power in the re-boot than Miss Ellie could have ever imagined. JR’s ex, Sue Ellen, is on the verge of becoming Texas’ new governor, who’d a thunk the former boozing madwoman would be settling in at the governor’s mansion? Another new thread in the “Dallas” tapestry is the prominence of Latino characters, who get to mix it up with the Ewings and enjoy some power plays of their own.
One of the best decisions made in the revamp was to keep the original theme music, grand opening titles (updated with modern Texas images), and iconic Southfork homestead. The drama is playing out in the same familiar house but a major difference this time around is that filming actually takes place in Texas, whereas the original tried to fake it, shooting in LA and using every trick in the book (usually tight, close-ups) to avoid getting a palm tree in the shot.
Even if you’re a little gun-shy when it comes to the re-tooling of classic TV, the new “Dallas” is worth checking out. The creators of the show have done a meticulous job trying to ensure that the original passion viewers had for “Dallas” would be rekindled in this fast-paced, sexy re- boot that plays ample homage to the show that started it all.