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Monday, June 11,2012

'Dallas': The Original Sinner Returns

America's most delightfully dysfunctional family makes its prime-time comeback

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.com

Damn, it's good to have J.R. Ewing back. As the ruthless oil baron of Dallas, he was the original dashing scumbag arch-villain, on the original prime-time soap. Played by the great Larry Hagman, J.R. was Tony Soprano in a Stetson, Tyrrion Lannister in a Mercedes, Don Draper with more notches on his oil well – those guys couldn't exist without J.R. to show them the way. As Hagman says, with his Texas cackle, "My favorite J.R. line was, 'Once you get rid of integrity, the rest is a piece of cake.' And lemme tell ya, it's true."

Dallas originally ran from 1978 to 1991, not exactly a golden age for network TV. But somehow, the Ewing sex-and-blood-and-oil-and-bourbon saga still resonates. The TNT version isn't a reboot, fortunately – it picks up the story with characters both old and new, back-stabbing and bed-hopping through the Lone Star State. All three key Ewings are on hand: Patrick Duffy as idealistic brother Bobby, Linda Gray as J.R.'s ex-wife Sue Ellen, and Hagman as J.R.

The fashion may have changed, but the Ewings, like the rest of us, keep fighting over the same old shit. J.R.'s son John Ross (Josh Henderson) is a shark who wants to drill for oil on the family homestead of Southfork; Bobby's son Christopher (Jesse Metcalfe) wants to explore alternative energy sources. Elena (Jordana), the daughter of Southfork's cook, is conniving with John Ross in the boardroom and the bedroom. Sue Ellen has become a tycoon, while J.R. is a recluse plotting vengeance against Bobby over a bowl of red Jello. Have they learned a damn thing? Maybe not. But maybe the rest of the country hasn't either.

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