Thursday, June 7, 2012 , Updated 8:00 a.m., June 13, 2012
Sneak peek: First episode of Dallas does classic show justice
It had the potential to be all hat and no cattle, but clever storytelling sustains the beloved TV show.
DALLAS TNT's first episode of Dallas -- starring a few old faithfuls and some new hunky young Ewings -- gives older fans of the show enough to chew on for nostalgia's sake, and offers new viewers reason to bite. The first episode starts slow with a ridiculous plot line that's too far-fetched to be possible, but by the end, you'll be sucked into the main characters' devilish ways, wondering how else they can two-time you next episode.
Dallas premieres June 13 on TNT.
The show is a reprise of the 1978-1991 popular CBS soap and is still set on Southfork Ranch, which viewers are made to believe is in Dallas, Texas. (It's in fact in Parker.) The opening scene shows cows grazing the beautiful greens before the story erupts into a Western-style romp because John Ross Ewing (Josh Henderson, who's actually from Dallas) has struck oil. He's drilling Southfork against family wishes, as "no one's ever been allowed to drill on Southfork," and uncle Bobby Ewing (Patrick Duffy) wants to keep it that way.
The premise sounds thin on paper, but a few twists and turns make the evening soap opera a lot of fun. It helps, too, that the same Dallas theme song introduces the show, this time including camera shots of the Omni Dallas Hotel, Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge, and Cowboys Stadium, in addition to standbys like Reunion Tower and the exterior of Southfork.
Bad boy John Ross takes up most of the initial episode, as he spends the better part of an hour destroying the wedding day of Christopher Ewing (Jesse Metcalfe, who plays Bobby Ewing's adopted son), who's marrying Rebecca Sutter (Julie Gonzalo). And what'll you know: Christopher's enemy John Ross is dating Christopher's ex-fiance Elena Ramos (Jordana Brewster).
The show gives a 21st century twist to the old oil family's tale, positioning Christopher as the one who wants to get into alternative energy while John Ross wants to stick to the family moneymaker, crude oil. The boys couldn't be more different: Christopher is seemingly naive and good-natured while John Ross is vindictive and sleuthing. But they can't both go after their respective vocations, as Christopher needs Bobby Ewing to sell Southfork to fund his alternative energy project. If Bobby sells, John Ross won't be able to drill for the oil he found on the family land.
Kudos to the actors for not overdoing the southern accents and staying away from tired stereotypes about Dallas. There were a few cowboy hats and gentlemen's handshakes, but in all, Dallas is an extension of a story about the fictional wealthy Dallas family many grew up loving. "It's as if the Ewings weren't fictional at all and just kept carrying on after the original show ran its course," notes Texas Monthly. That couldn't be more true, as the famous characters have aged considerably, leaving room in the spotlight for the young guns.
The show appropriately gives screen time to JR Ewing (Larry Hagman) and Sue Ellen Ewing (Linda Gray) -- but you have to wait for it. Stick around past the first few episodes, and JR Ewing makes a bigger appearance. You'll come to know Henderson (as John Ross) as the cowboy in charge, at least in the beginning.
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