'Dallas' Review: My First Time at the Southfork Ranch
Wednesday, June 13, 2012
Dallas was a huge primetime soap opera in the '80s, but since I
was still learning my ABCs at the time, I didn't watch it. In fact, I
know almost nothing about the original series. I know Patrick Duffy's
Bobby Ewing stepped out of the shower because an entire season was a
dream, and I know that someone shot Larry Hagman's J.R., though I
honestly don't know or care who did it.
I say this because I feel like whether or not you watched the original Dallas is a big factor in whether or not you enjoy the new reboot on TNT (Wednesdays at 9pm).
On Dallas, everyone is fighting over the Southfork Ranch, the Ewing family estate. Bobby owns it and J.R. wants it. And in the new series, the next generation is a part of the same feud. J.R.'s son, John Ross (Josh Henderson) wants to drill for oil, but Bobby made a promise to his mother that there would never be drilling on the ranch.
If that seems like a preposterous premise for tension, you're not alone. Maybe I'm cynical, but a promise to a dead woman vs. millions of dollars worth of oil is no content. I also feel like if Fairly Legal's professional moderator Kate Reed showed up, this whole thing could be fixed in one episode.
Instead, Dallas is full of lies, blackmail, double-crossing, triple-crossing and, in some cases, quadruple-crossing. Maybe in the '80s this all seemed interesting, but now it feels tedious. One of my pet peeves on TV is irrational plot contrivances, and realistically, if everyone just talked through their issues and stopped lying all the time, everything would be resolved quite easily.
What makes Dallas particularly hard to watch for someone like me is how prominent the original characters are. The feud between Bobby and J.R. is so massive that the new, younger characters seem almost irrelevant, like pawns on a chess board. The show should've learned from the CW's 90210 reboot. That show started by including original characters like Jennie Garth's Kelly Taylor, but quickly dropped her in favor of focusing solely on the new characters.
Dallas takes the opposite approach, focusing so much on Duffy and Hagman's characters that you can't help but be annoyed by the new characters' romantic drama.
You see, Bobby's son Christopher (Jesse Metcalfe) used to date the cook's daughter Elena (Jordana Brewster), but they broke up and now he's engaged to Rebecca Sutter (Julie Gonzalo). Now Bobby's cousin John Ross is dating Elena. There are a lot more complicated plot twists ahead for these four, but there's only so much you can do with four people.
If you watched the original Dallas and are curious to see how Bobby and J.R. are doing 20 years later, this might be the show you're looking for. But if you know nothing about the Southfork Ranch, like me, odds are you'll find this drama to be tedious and old-fashioned. Dallas should've stayed in the '80s where it belonged.
(Image courtesy of TNT)