Is it possible for a family to work together when their enemies worked extra hard to tear them apart from the inside out? What happens when your best laid plans end up leading to your undoing? That's part of the premise behind the season three premiere of TNT's "Dallas," which followed one wealthy family and their quest to remain on top. Sure, the show might still have a few flaws, but the show's mostly positive results outweighed a few minor flaws.
"Dallas" followed the Ewing family as they continued to outsmart their enemies for the time being. The premiere picked up a mere twelve hours after the events of the season two finale and had the Ewing clan riding high after they outsmarted their rival Cliff Barnes (Ken Kercheval) for the last time. Bobby Ewing (Patrick Duffy) led the charge by carrying J.R.'s final plan of framing Barnes for J.R.'s supposed murder. He recruited his son Christopher (Jesse Metcalfe) and his nephew John Ross (Josh Henderson) in making sure that the plan came to a satisfying end. They ended up with a large piece of Barne's business and their own growing empire. What they didn't take into account was the many complication that threatened to derail the family's new sense of unity. Christopher's failed relationship with Elena Ramos (Jordana Brewster) might end up destroying everything his family worked for in ways that he never imagined. She ended up siding with the now jailed Barnes after she found that J.R. switched the deeds and gave her family worthless land that led to the death and destruction of her father and her brother. Elena wanted revenge and plotted to destroy the family from the inside by regaining their trust. John Ross, on the other hand, was becoming more like his late father by juggling two very different lives. He played the part of a devoted husband to his new wife Pamela Barnes (Julie Gonzalo) that he loved, while he was also plotting and bedding Emma (Emma Bell) to get his hands on various business contracts in her family's company. Luckily, John Ross had his devoted mother Sue Ellen (Linda Gray) to keep him in line, even when her drinking could reveal some surprising secrets in the process. Will the family be able to come together to fight their enemies or will they fall apart in the process?
In terms of questions, the show's premiere posed a few goods that mostly involved trying to keep all of the various schemes straight. The premiere also managed to fix a very flaws from last season and introduced a few new threats along the horizon. The show made a very wise decision in ending the not-so interesting pairing between Brewster's Elena and Metcalfe's Christopher because their on-screen relationship lacked tension from the start. It also helped that Brewster's character got a superb personality makeover by turning her into another schemer out to hurt the Ewings. The plot change was a nice twist as the character grappled with betraying the people that she onced cared about. Hopefully, the show will continue to develop Brewster's character into a proper villainess rather than Bell's transparent Emma who seemed to pout more than she plotted, and turned Gonzalo's Pamela into the new resident good girl. Henderson's John Ross had the best storylines as his character juggled between lovers, personalities and his dealings with people. The character was turning into a younger but tougher version of his late father. Luckily, the show also took the time to honor Larry Hagman's memory by making references to J.R. at various points of the premiere, which was well deserved. Let's hope that the show groomed Henderson to take over J.R.'s devious ways for the better because he had the ability to pull off his own version of being the resident anti-hero. Unfortunately, the show's premiere still seemed to be struggling with what to do with Metcalfe's wishy washy Christopher, but the arrival of AnnaLynne McCord's Heather could just be what the doctor ordered. Only time will tell if that's the case.
In terms of breakout performances, Henderson and Brewster led the pack as their scheming characters plotted with very different purposes in mind. Henderson brought a unique swagger and charm as he made John Ross a force to be reckoned with. He embodied the character with the right level of toughness and tenderness that made the character caught between two very different women. Luckily, Henderson had chemistry with both Bell and Gonzalo, even though viewers likely preferred him with Gonzalo's Pamela because she managed to humanize John Ross. It also helped that viewers were anticipating her finding out that John Ross was cheating on her with a woman across the hall from her. Cue the inevitable scene where John Ross gets shot by either one of his lovers at some point of the series, or season. Henderson's strongest scene was when he proposed to Pamela in a romantic way and also indirectly admitting that marrying him wasn't going to be easy for her. It was a rare sweet scene because viewers saw that John Ross did have a softer side, if only for a fleeting moment. Brewster, on the other hand, had the challenging task of doing a complete 180 with her character, which ended up being a blessing in disguise because it gave her more to do than being arm candy for one of the Ewing men. She now embodied Elena with a sense of purpose that wasn't there before and seemed to be enjoying herself as she lied to everyone around her. Brewster's strongest scene was when she decided to join forces with Barnes not for revenge, but for justice for her family. It was touching that the characther cared about her family enough to commit to her plan. Let's hope that the show follows through with it.
"Dallas" premiered on February 24th and airs Mondays at 9:00 pm on TNT.
Verdict: The premiere managed to set up some potentially explosive stories and even improved upon some of its early mistakes. Henderson also proved to be the live wire that will drive some of the show's most devious plots.
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)