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

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

By Dustin Rowles | TV | June 18, 2012 |

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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