Is it possible exact revenge objectively without it turning you into someone else entirely? That's part of the premise behind TNT's hit show "Dallas," which followed one family's quest for success while they secretly plotted against one another. The results may be familiar for a prime time soap opera, but the execution was flawless overall.
"Dallas" followed the highly successful Ewing family who were known for their wealth, power and their intense family rivalries. Bobby Ewing (Patrick Duffy) was still battling his older brother J.R. (Larry Hagman) for control over the family's newest business, Ewing Energies. The name of the company and its ideals may have changed, but the brothers were still battling each other without even knowing it. J.R. has enlisted his son John Ross (Josh Henderson) to help him to steal the company out from under his nephew Christopher (Jesse Metcalfe). John Ross was willing to help as a way to hurt his ex-girlfriend Elena Ramos (Jordana Brewster) for choosing Christopher over him. He was so eager to destroy both of them that he aligned himself with Christopher's soon-to-be ex Rebecca (Julie Gonzalo) after her true identity was revealed. Unfortunately, that reveal wasn't the only shocking development that the Ewings had to deal with. Bobby's wife Ann (Brenda Strong) was dealt a blow when she found her long missing daughter, but there was more to her disappearance than anyone expected. J.R. also helped his ex-wife Sue Ellen (Linda Gray) when her most recent dark secret was exposed. Can the Ewings work together against their enemies or will they destroy each other from within?
In terms of questions, the show posed a few that won't likely be answered until the season progresses. The season premiere demonstrated a lot of storyline potential by lining up multiple foes for the Ewings to tangle with or form questionable alliances along the way. The reveal of Rebecca's real name was a nice twist and it also paid tribute to a popular character from the original show. It was a welcome relief to see Gonzalo's Rebecca to play more than the deceptive victim that she was in the first season. Her return back to Dallas was full of attitude and put her in the crosshairs of Henderson's John Ross. The show made a wise decision to put them together in a unique alliance that showcased their strong love/hate dynamic that provided the right amount of venom to each episode. Let's hope that the show continued to explore Henderson and Gonzalo's new relationship without turning into a complete love story. Henderson also had a strong rapport with Hagman's J.R. that proved they were both a match made in deception heaven. It will be a shame once Hagman's final episode airs, because their on-screen chemistry will be sorely missed. The second episode seemed to foreshadow that J.R.'s schemes might have painted a fatal target on his back. Let's hope that Hagman's swan song will pay the right tribute to such an iconic character.
As for possible solutions, the season premiere seemed to be making strides to establish some potential new villains to fill Hagman's towering shoes once J.R.'s demise has been scripted. The unveiling of the rest of the Ryland clan has indicated that this family has a lot more skeletons in the closet than the Ewings could ever dream about. Judith Light was introduced the family's wicked matriarch as someone who could give Hagman's J.R. a run for his money. She didn't even have to say much to unnerve viewers in the best possible way. Viewers were also given the opportunity to have more information on Strong's Ann and her mysterious background with the Ryland family. Strong showcased Ann as a character full of grit and vulnerability as she struggled to separate the truth from the lies that the Rylands fed over the years. She had a comfortable rapport with both Gray and Duffy that future episodes will continue to explore as they tried to move past their personal mistakes. Sadly, the show's weakest link was still Metcalfe's bland Christopher who was almost too moralistic for his own good. The best possible cure would be to allow Metcalfe to explore his character's dark side a little more. Christopher's obsession for revenge against Rebecca might be story that should do the trick. Only time will tell if that's the case.
"Dallas" premiered on January 28th and airs Mondays at 9:00 PM on TNT.
Verdict: A remake that has hit new heights in its second season, but Hagman's passing will definitely put a damper on future episodes.
TV Score: 4 out of 5 stars
1 Star (Mediocre)
2 Stars (Averagely Entertaining)
3 Stars (Decent Enough to Pass Muster)
4 Stars (Near Perfect)
5 Stars (Gold Standard)