Highly successful television shows like “Friends” and “Desperate Housewives” typically run for eight seasons. “Dallas” ran for fourteen seasons starting in 1978, has been broadcast worldwide ever since, and is now back in Prime Time on TNT with new original episodes featuring many original characters and cast members. Vintage “Dallas” sets, props and costumes are much more than popular museum exhibits at American history and broadcast museums like the Paley Center for Media. The setting for the drama, the Ewing family’s Southfork Ranch, is a museum itself and has become the leading attraction in the Dallas Metroplex.
The TNT cast’s live presentation at PaleyFest on Sunday, March 10 showed how much these historic icons of American television are admired by fans around the world and how these elements of history have important value in inspiring new creativity today. Part of the program featured script readings of vintage scripts from the original “Dallas” that highlighted the character development process of creative groups. As you see in the photo above, Jesse Metcalfe, Patrick Duffy, Linda Gray and Josh Henderson immersed themselves in dialogs from a quarter-century ago. These iconic actors are back on the air as Christopher Ewing, his father Bobby Ewing, Sue Ellen Ewing and her son John Ross Ewing, respectively. Other popular characters from the original series make guest appearances on the show.
The production team and stars of the new TNT series Dallas explained that the new episodes are being produced on site in Texas at the Southfork Ranch museum itself. Tours take place and cast members interact with visitors and fans during rehearsals. Actor Patrick Duffy also makes nostalgia appearances as Bobby Ewing at ComicCon in July.
From the vintage scripts of the original “Dallas” series to historic replicas of J.R. Ewing’s bourbon decanter and props at Southfork Ranch, the icons of the “Dallas” series have become a traveling exhibition of American culture. The program is broadcast in ninety-five countries. Visitors from several of these countries traveled all the way to Beverly Hills to experience the presentation of the cast and crew in person. They reported the extraordinary excitement about the series re-launch.
The ability of the most iconic television shows to make lead characters legendary has created a kind of immortality for actor Larry Hagman, who played J.R. Ewing in the original series and the first seven episodes of the new TNT series Dallas. Hagman passed away just before Christmas, prompting the script writers and technical talent into adapting the storyline quickly. The first result screened at PaleyFest March 10 and will air tonight on TNT. Titled “An Icon is Laid to Rest” it expertly illustrates the transformation of a popular television character into an icon of American history and dramatic literature.
Both cast and fans welcome the transformation of J.R. Ewing’s character into an American icon. As Linda Gray explained her perspective, “He’s here and he will always be here.” Dedicated fan Richard Wajda joined the PaleyFest fans operates a restaurant near the Hagman family home in Santa Monica and served the Hagmans many times over the years. Wajda has his own J.R. Ewing icon -- a prop of a ten-thousand dollar bill embellished with the image of J.R. Ewing himself. Like many devoted fans, Wadja has visited the Southfork Ranch Museum himself to see how American Icons were made there in the past and are being made there again today.