‘Dallas’ Review: The Ewings Are Back
“The double cross never felt so good.” Sound like words fit for a show like TNT’s Dallas? Good, because the show’s season premiere lived up to the vengeful tagline. If you were worried this show would fail to properly replicate the spicy quality of the 1978 soap with the same name, rest easy. Rather than do a remake, the creators chose to continue the story twenty years after the ending of the original.
Three familiar faces return to Southfork Ranch in the first episode – J.R. Ewing (Larry Hagman), Bobby Ewing (Patrick Duffy) and Sue Ellen Ewing (Linda Gray). For those of you who already know these characters, it’s interesting to see where they have ended up. J.R. begins the episode essentially immobilized with severe depression. His brother Bobby receives the devastating news from his doctor that he has gastrointestinal cancer. Last but not least, we find a seemingly healthy Sue Ellen pursuing a career in politics.
However, the spotlight in the story is focused on John Ross Ewing (Josh Henderson), son of J.R., and his cousin Christopher Ewing (Jesse Metcalfe), adopted son of Bobby. The two cousins are already at odds as John Ross is keen to drill Southfork for oil while Christopher has his sights set on alternative energy. Of course John Ross also finds a moment to note that Christopher is not a ‘real’ Ewing and that his actual father sold him at birth. Oh, family bonding.
While Christopher returns home with his lovely fiancée Rebecca Sutter (Julie Gonzalo) on his arm, it doesn’t take long for him to reconnect with ex-fiancée Elena Ramos (Jordana Brewster), who is now with John Ross. The history and chemistry that flare up in just the first episode show the potential for a compelling future love triangle.
With or without the triangle melodrama, both boys have their hands full with the women in their lives. Christopher’s fiancée has an easy charm about her, but we get hints that she and her brother have a big secret up their sleeves. Naturally John Ross is juggling two women – his girlfriend Elena and a mysterious woman who did something to him involving a camera, ropes and some kind of drug… don’t ask us.
The main source of controversy so far is whether or not Bobby will want or be able to sell Southfork (and the oil beneath the surface). John Ross and his father team up to steal the property from Bobby, but it is hard to focus on a common enemy when you cannot trust your business partner. The father and son pair seem to begin arguing and backstabbing immediately after agreeing to work together. Initially Christopher is on board with the sale, but when his methane extraction project hits a major roadblock, he reconsiders.
Also new to the show is Bobby’s wife, Ann Ewing (Brenda Strong). While she appears kind and soft-spoken, she doesn’t hesitate to pull out a shotgun when she hears a robber in the house. Later in the episode she gently confronts Bobby about his cancer and urges him to consider his motivation behind selling Southfork. In a touching scene toward the end, Ann encourages Bobby to fight for his life and the ranch he loves.
As expected, the various twists and turns the show has already taken are overwhelming. All of the actors, particularly Henderson as John Ross, have perfected the smouldering soap opera stare. There’s plenty of backstabbing, lying and cheating going on and the drama has only just begun. If that sounds like your kind of TV, or if you’re just really curious to see what Bobby and J.R. get up to this time, tune in to Dallas for your weekly dose of oily scandal.