TNT's "Dallas" Review: J.R. Ewing's Smothering Old-Man Eyebrows Steal the Show
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TNT's "Dallas" Review: J.R. Ewing's Smothering Old-Man Eyebrows Steal the Show

By Dustin Rowles | TV Reviews | June 18, 2012 | Comments ()


I never watched much of the original "Dallas." All I know is that someone shot J.R. and that it came on CBS Friday night after my beloved "Dukes of Hazzard," which is to say: After my bedtime. I didn't even realize the show -- which began in 1978 -- ran until 1991, so I may not be the best person to judge the new series, which is not a reboot, but a continuation of the old "Dallas." Then again, it's been 20 years since the original left the air, and much of the cast is young and new to the series, so I'm probably in the same boat as most of the record 6.9 million viewers -- the biggest debut for a cable series this year -- are. We have a vague understanding of who J.R. Ewing and Bobby Ewing are, the show involves a family feud, it takes place in Dallas, and there's oil involved.

Really, that's all you need to know because by the end of the second episode, the show has dropped so many out-of-left-field curveballs without laying any of the foundation necessary to develop a decent twist that you'll either be sucked in by the inherent ridiculousness of the series or turned off by its soap-opera absurdity. What is clear, however, is that Larry Hagman's Ewing -- two decades removed from the original run -- still owns the place. He's heroically evil, and while he's certainly not in the same league as a Walter White or a Tywin Lannister, he's at least on the same level as Madeleine Stowe in "Revenge." Unfortunately, the supporting cast is almost universally dreadful, save for Patrick Duffy's Bobby Ewing and his wife (Brenda Strong, "Sports Night," "Desperate Housewives").

The continuation picks up in the present day, where Bobby and J.R. are still fighting over ownership of Southfork. Now, they're using their offspring as pawn. Bobby is dying and wants to use the land for good -- conservation or an alternative energy designed by his son, Christopher (Jesse Metcalf). J.R., meanwhile, is wants to do with the land what his Daddy intended (oil!), and he's playing his own kin (John Ross) while John Ross thinks he's playing J.R. In fact, for the most part, half the characters in the series all think they're pulling a fast one on someone else, and after two episodes, "Dallas" already feels like the end of David Mamet's Heist, operating like a Matryoshka doll unburying the levels of "who got played?"

It's dumb, but it's not without some guilty enjoyment, mostly because it's a pleasure to see the cunning manipulator J.R. Ewing and his giant muskrat-eating eyebrows get the best of the youngsters. How often can the writers keep this up before it gets tiresome? Probably for as long as the younger cast continues to be empty, though attractive, little shits. So, the entire series?

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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not

  • Leticia

    i was born in the 80's and I love Dallas!! come on where else can we find such hot men JESSE! in their ranglers ...damn sexy!!

  • Pai Mei

    I would have watched this, but I was too busy not being a 65 year old woman.

  • bleujayone

    Looks at header pic....

    "It took Bruce nearly 40 years later, but he did finally find his nemesis again. It turns out the Clown Prince of Crime was hiding out somewhere in Texas in the ultimate case of stolen identity. He wondered why no one else there hadn't figured it out earlier since his old enemy did make all the oil derricks look like giant squirting flowers."

  • Mrs. Julien

    Mr. Julien has very enthusiastic eyebrows. We refer to the trimming process as "gandalfing".

  • logan

    C'mon does Hagman not look like the Grinch in that picture?

  • not a Texan

    Watched the first episode and I was out. This was dumb. Really, really dumb. First of all, in what world do we live in that adoption is not recognized as family? He is your family member, you dumbass. Second, they met in the middle of the Dallas Cowboy's sadium. Really? That was the meeting spot? You also mean to tell me that you have a crew drilling oil without the owner's permission? Really? WTF?!?! I couldn't stand it. THe end of the episode was the end of my watching it.

  • David Sorenson

    Geez. Larry Hagman's hairline didn't recede. It just started over where his eyebrows used to be,

  • Devin McMusters

    Original Dallas fan that really liked the new one. Larry Hagman is incredible. Linda Gray looked hot. Too bad the new girls were so generic looking.

  • Vangie13

    JR was a charming rogue.
    He had a passion for life, and for everything he considered to be good
    in it—money, power, sex, drink. He
    gulped it down, and laughed the whole while.
    He was smart and mean and he was fun to watch and hate.

    Meanwhile his son, John Ross, is a sullen puling brat. He wanders around crying, “I’m a Ewing, and
    you’re not! Mine, mine, mine! I want; gimme!” No passion, no fun, no glee. And he doesn’t even make up for his lack of
    ‘there’-ness by being good to look at, with his ‘I wish I was a man’ facial
    wisps and his mouth-breather’s slack jaw.

    SueEllen is more beautiful than ever, though.

  • I'm more intimidated by Martin Scorsese's eyebrows, but by just a teeny bit.

  • Anna von Beav

    MOG, those things are AMAZING.

    Do you think they're sentient? I'll bet they're sentient.

  • Bert_McGurt

    You know JR's a badass cause his wrist wears a championship belt.

  • TheOriginalMRod

    Too bad Jeannie isn't around to help him trim those eyebrows.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    I was listening to BBC World News on NPR last Friday. And they had a spot on the return of "Dallas". Complete with some woman who runs a fan club TODAY in a random ass town in England. So hard for me to wrap my brain around that one.

  • cheryl

    Maybe you meant Tywin Lannister? At any rate, J.R. Ewing should not be mentioned in the same breath as any of GRRM's villains unless it's along the lines of, "J.R. Ewing makes Tywin Lannister and his ilk look like little punk-ass bitches."

    I say this as a Game of Thrones fan, but don't fuck with Dallas. Those writers made back-stabbing shenanigans into an art form back when GRRM was still scripting Beauty & The Beast!

    Yes, I'm an old person from the 80's and proud of it.

  • mrsdalgliesh

    I'm an old person from the 80's (and before), too -- and I just loved the ridiculousness of it all coming back. It seems exactly right as a summer series. They made great use of Southfork (though I'm wondering if this crew -- like the old one -- will decamp to LA with a sorry-ass fake SF backdrop and pool after the first two episodes of the season) and things just got silly as they tried to use every Dallas landmark as soon as possible. Linda Grey was always a terrible actress, so that hasn't changed, but what I love is that, as a younger woman, she always looked liked she'd had some bizarre plastic surgery -- so now, she fits her face. All the old folks walked away with their scenes. Go old folks!

  • Foder

    We really need a Thunderdome-style deathmatch between Larry Hagman's eyebrows and Tom Selleck's moustache (two man enter, one man leave!). Those Hagman eyebrows are seriously freaking impressive, but Selleck's moustache is downright iconic. IMO, the moustache would win, but just by a hair (Yeah, I can't believe I just said that either).

  • Threenineteen

    It would be the hairy version of the one-sided lightsaber/ two-sided lightsaber battle in a movie that doesn't exist.

  • 724wd

    Tyrion Lannister is NOT heroically evil!!

  • BobbFrapples

    My mother likes to remind me that she went into labor with me during an episode of Dallas. That is the extent of my familiarity with the show.

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