48 hours and counting….
I was thrilled to be able to preview the 2 hour return of Dallas, which premieres Wednesday on TNT. As excited as I’ve been the past year and a half (I mean seriously….I’ve always been vocal about my crush on JR Ewing…don’t judge me), I was concerned it would suffer an early death much like the efforts of other classic reprises (think Charlie’s Angels on ABC last year). I can tell you it goes far and beyond any high expectations any of us could have had.
Even at its height in the 1980s, the writers seemed to be creating their magic with the mindset of, “Get out of my way…to hell with political correctness”. Of course, it was the 80s – so pushing the envelope then was a nice, slow waltz compared to what writers create these days. It’s a sure-enough, down-home, giddy-up three step with TNT’s efforts of developing a plot line without compromising the foundation that made Dallas such a guilty pleasure.
I’m always cautious of a premiere that appears to focus too heavily on perfect hair, perfect make-up, perfectly designed wardrobes – give me a little imperfection so that it’s more authentic. Anytime you’re dealing with a fictional TV family that’s loaded to the gills with riches (even if the plot line includes worries about going broke), you’re bound to be hit with unrealistic appearances. Like the first go-round, there exists the right balance with what we’re seeing and the story we’re being told. The women are vain and concerned with appearances, but like any true Texas girl, she wants her man to look as powerful as she’s trying to make him. She knows if she can pull that off, it can only add to her own presentation.
The most important aspect for me, though, was this isn’t a “new” Dallas; the efforts were made – and successfully, I might add – to pick up in many ways where the original story line dropped off. We’re being introduced to the new generation but we’re not losing any of the greed, narcissistic and jealous qualities of the original cast. J.R. Ewing reins supreme: “Ah, you know I hate to hit below the belt – but ya know I will”. Bobby is still trying to save souls while making sure he doesn’t become jaded in the process. The focus is still on oil – after all, “oil” has always been a character in and of itself in Dallas. Now, though, the problems between J.R. and Bobby, and ultimately their sons, is on whether or not the Ewing land will continue to be a drilling field or if it will become a more muted conservatory. Guess which brother wants more oil rigs. The only obstacle even these brilliant writers couldn’t overcome – Barbara Bel Geddes, who played the sweet Miss Ellie in the original series, passed away in 2005.
Their two sons – perfect casting – perfection, I tell you! They manage to capture the qualities of their respective fathers while bringing entirely new dynamics into the game. And by the way, if you’re as hokey as I am and can appreciate a multifaceted man who masters ulterior motives and all the other less than noble human emotions, then J.R. Ewing is definitely your man. Two words: explosive genius.
Don’t miss this one. Seriously – do not miss this one.
Dallas premieres on TNT Wednesday, June 13 at 8 pm central time.
OK…so to get you in the mindset, here are a few tidbits of info you never knew and your life isn’t better because you know them now (or maybe it is). Just random info from the late 70s, early/mid 80s:
Dallas premiered in April 1978 as a mini-series, but was so popular, CBS took a chance – and never looked back. The series ran until 1991, making it the second longest drama series in TV history. Gunsmoke reined supreme, but since then, Law & Order has tied Gunsmoke – both were on the air for two decades.
Did Dallas inspire Urban Cowboy (my all time fave movie) or did Urban Cowboy inspire Dallas? This is one of those questions right up there with “Who shot JR?”
Bee Gees DOMINATED the music charts. Saturday Night Fever was red-hot in 1979.
Also, and this is interesting – keep in mind John Travolta was in three of the biggest films in the U.S. during this time span between ’77 and ’81: Grease, Saturday Night Fever and, of course, Urban Cowboy
The best seasons were between ’84 and ’86. Ronald Reagan was president (what I’d give for those days) and the music – oh the music from those years…
When Doves Cry – Prince
What’s Love Got To Do With It – Tina Turner
Jump – Van Halen
Like A Virgin – Madonna
Against All Odds (Take A Look At Me Now) – Phil Collins
Footloose – Kenny Loggins
Can’t Fight This Feeling – REO Speedwagon
Cherish – Kool and the Gang
I Want To Know What Love Is – Foreigner
Money For Nothing – Dire Straits
Careless Whisper – Wham
You Give Love a Bad Name – Bon Jovi
Stuck With You – Huey Lewis and the News
Addicted to Love – Robert Palmer
Someday – Glass Tiger