Dallas, the 2012 version of the landmark 80s primetime soap, aired from June to August on American cable channel TNT. It is announced in France for January 2013 on private channel TF1 (after a release this summer on its VoD service in English with subs) and arrives in the U.K. on Channel 5 this Wednesday September 5th.
« Blood may be thicker than water but oil is thicker than both. »
Created by David Jacobs, the original Dallas ran for 356 episodes from 1978 to 1991 on US network CBS. It centered on the Ewings, a wealthy Texas family who owned the 340-acre Southfork ranch and the Ewing Oil company. Its eldest son, the scheming J.R. Ewing (Larry Hagman), rapidly became the most popular character. He was constantly feuding with his younger and nicer brother Bobby (Patrick Duffy) and was married to the long-suffering alcoholic Sue Ellen (Linda Gray). Dallas made television history in 1980 with one of its trademark cliffhangers when someone shot J.R. - but he survived. Later a whole season was made a "dream" to allow the return of Bobby from the dead... in his shower.
Finally the devil himself (the great Joel Grey) seemed to succeed in doing what even J.R.'s worst enemy, Cliff Barnes (Ken Kercheval), couldn't do as the show bowed out at the end of its fourteenth season - Dallas's spinoff Knots Landing had a similar long run from 1979 to 1993. J.R. and the Ewings, however, came back for two reunion TV movies in 1996 and 1998 before cable channel TNT decided in 2010 to bring back Dallas for a filming the following year. Developed by writer and producer Cynthia Cidre (Cane, The Mambo Kings), the new series is a continuation of its predecessor - although events of the movies are ignored - and stars a new regular cast alongside Dallas nobilities Patrick Duffy, Linda Gray and Larry Hagman.
Desperate Housewives alumni Jesse Metcalfe and Josh Henderson play Christopher and John Ross, respectively Bobby's adopted son and J.R.'s son. The family is about to gather at Southfork for Christopher's wedding with Rebecca Sutter (Julie Gonzalo) when John Ross and Elena Ramos (Jordana Brewster) discover a gusher under the ranch. But Bobby, happily married to Ann (Desperate Housewives regular Brenda Strong) and retired from the oil business to raise cattle, wants no drilling on the 150-year old property. So John Ross complains to daddy, who's silent in a cozy nursing home for clinical depression. Finding the spark he needed to regenerate, J.R. mutters that « Bobby was always a fool ». The Master... Reborn!
« It's better to be old than to be the devil. »
Larry Hagman, 80, is in top shape. J.R. Ewing is more dangerous than ever, the cross between a Shakesperean patriarch, a mafia don (the pre-credit sequence of the third episode) and an alligator. Ken Kercheval, 76, appears in 3 episodes as J.R.'s arch-nemesis Cliff Barnes - now in the casino business - who has a pivotal role in the new series (1). The 2012 Dallas has some of the defects of contemporary American dramas but captures brilliantly the spirit of the original, towards which it shows a lot of respect through a multitude of details (« Nobody gives you power, real power is something you take. ») Viewers need time to get interest for the young generation but their patience is rewarded and Josh Henderson conquers his legitimacy as J.R.'s heir with style.
The new Dallas is entirely and superbly filmed in Texas and of course at the legendary Southfork Ranch. Though shortened the fabulous theme intro by Jerrold Immel is there in a great soundtrack by Rob Cairns. TV buffs will enjoy the presence of Carlos Bernard (24) as ruthless Venezualian businessman Vicente Cano and Mitch Pileggi (The X-Files) as Harris Ryland, Ann Ewing's sneaky ex-husband. This 10-episode series - it is renewed for a second season in 2013 - is a masterclass on how a television classic must be revived, a family saga equivalent of the modern Doctor Who in terms of TV resurrection: a gift to the fans and a classy invitation for a new public. The "new" Dallas? No, Dallas.
Dallas is produced by Cynthia Cidre's prodco Cyntax in association with Warner Horizon Television.
« We've got some catching up to do, son. »
(1) Charlene Tilton (Lucy Ewing) and Steve Kanaly (Ray Krebbs) also appear.