Admittedly, I know zero things about the 1970s/80s/90s Dallas except for the infamous “Who shot J.R.?” summer slogan and the knowledge that the entire season was then wrapped up as a dream. So let me just answer this question right off the bat, because I know people will ask: No. You don’t need to know anything about the previous Dallas to absolutely enjoy this generation’s Dallas. And that’s a good thing, because TNT’s Dallas promises to be a fun, helluva ride. And I’m all buckled in!
Oh, and if you watched the previous Dallas, you’ll also love it. Or so says my mother who viewed the episodes I was given. (I don’t think those are against my screening privileges, right TNT?)
So, yes, full disclosure: I was given the first two episodes of the season, premiering tonight, and was promised the rest in advance as well. But you guys know me, nothing would keep my big mouth shut. So if I didn’t like it, I would have said that. It’s good. Trust me!
The series starts off a little slow, opening up with the new generation of Ewings including John Ross (J.R.’s son) and Christopher (Bobby’s son) and their significant others Elena and Rebecca, respectively. John Ross is drilling for oil on Southfork Ranch…even though he isn’t supposed to because it’s in his grandmother’s will. That said, he strikes — and big. Meanwhile, Chris is trying to move ahead with the future and innovate clean energy strategies with methane. Already, you understand the parallels: John Ross is J.R. and Chris is Bobby.
It’s a simple and easy soap opera template as old as telenovelas themselves. But the thing here is that it works, and come the end of the first hour, circumstances are that almost everything begins to spiral out of control that you’ll finally realize that you’re in for the ride this season. Dallas knows what it is: a good, old fashion soap opera. Soap operas have a stigma these days but when I say it, I mean it in the fun sense, not in the love triangles ad nauseam sense. Though, there is a love triangle. Obviously, there had to be. But this is a show about opposing forces, sometimes more than three or four, and what everyone will do to “rise to power.”
After the two hours, it’s as if a season worth of twists have already revealed themselves! You won’t believe how much these people love to backstab. And it’s great.
Look, of course, Dallas probably won’t be winning any Emmys during today’s TV world, but even given its plot-driven nature, the show is quite well-balanced in all aspects. The storylines between the old and new generations blend nicely, the drama is equal parts guilty pleasure and substantial, and every character has a key component in their respective roles. It’s difficult to explain, but you’ll understand what I mean. The actors are pretty great themselves, including Larry Hagman (J.R.) who isn’t quick-witted but absolutely is at ease with his villainous persona (plus his eyebrows — the eyebrows are their own character, you guys; I’ve named them J.R.brows.) and perhaps the best of the new generation is Jesse Metcalfe who also seems to fit quite effortlessly in his role.
Perhaps the only weak point is the tension regarding Elena’s heart (no, not Vampire Diaries), but if you go along with it for plot’s sake, then it should be fine.
The fact of the matter is, Dallas is the perfect summer viewing pleasure. Airing on hump day in the middle of the workweek, it’s a nice choice to flip on and go along for the thrill. David Jacobs, creator, and company have established a fun world where you’ll be rooting for both sides equally and plastering a smile on your face when the episode’s over at its entertaining camp.
Grade: a solid B from me.
Dallas premieres tonight, June 13th, at 9pm on TNT with two full episodes. And if you’d like, sign up for the Rise To Power game online and play along with me! I promise, already, it adds to the fun. (Or it does for me, because I’m a sucker for this stuff.) Plus, you’ll probably get to win stuff!