First Night: Dallas, Channel 5, 9pm

2.00

‘The fun is just beginning,’ says a revived JR – but he’ll have a job convincing us

Twenty-one years is an awful long time to hang from a cliff, so I don't imagine even the most devoted fans will have been watching the Dallas reboot to find out whether JR really did shoot himself, as the closing moments of the original series hinted.

Instead, the first order of business for TNT's extension of one of the most valuable franchises in television history was to build some brand new cliffs – and they began with a classic Texan image of good fortune: an oil derrick spurting black gold over delirious drillers. The good news? There's two billion barrels of light, sweet, crude down that thur hole. The bad? The hole is in Southfork and John Ross Jr hasn't yet told his Uncle Bobby that he has ignored his instructions not to drill in the back garden.

It's a big place, but even so you might have thought Uncle Bobby would have noticed. But Bobby, first seen sitting in a doctor's office with an expression honed by 14 seasons of absorbing terrible news, has other things on his mind. Bobby has "a fairly rare form of cancer", the chief symptom of which is an ostentatious wince and a clutch of the stomach at moments of emotional intensity.

JR, meanwhile, is catatonic with depression in a Dallas nursing home and Sue Ellen has ditched the drink and become a political player. Time and the surgeon's knife have been kind to all three, though it occasionally strikes you as fortunate that the drama has never required a huge expressive variability.

"I cain't even quiver ma lip any more," complained Linda Gray in John Barrowman's Dallas, a curtain-raising documentary on Sunday night. That can be a problem with certain kinds of procedures.

The veterans are really there as walking pieces of memorabilia, on hand to give the replica a sense of authenticity. But it's the younger generation who are going to have to carry most of the plot. The principal combatants here are John Ross, who wants to turn Southfork into an oilfield, and Christopher, Bobby's adopted son, who thinks oil is over and it's time to get into deep-sea methane.

And as if this schism over hydrocarbons wouldn't be enough to power the characters' ongoing enmity, the writers have also contrived a sexual overlap. Because John Ross is now paired up with Christopher's old flame Elena, daughter of Southfork's Mexican housemaid.

Just minutes before he gets married to Rebecca, Christopher discovers that Elena still loves him. She thought he'd dumped her by email. He thought she'd run for the border. Neither bothered to check until now, which is handy as far as steamy melodrama goes.

Life at Southfork doesn't appear to be greatly changed. Any large family gathering, as before, is marked by hissing declarations of mutual loathing in back rooms and shirt-grabbing out by the pool. So convoluted is the treachery, indeed, that one of the central characters, notionally acting to rescue Southfork from despoliation, is going behind the back of the person she's already going behind backs for.

And the series' favourite monster is up and walking once again: after John Ross whispers a tonic of bile, rage and prospective oil profits into his ear, JR's eyelids flicker open and a wintery smile of pleasure breaks across his face. He was only depressed, it seems, because everybody was getting on so well.

"The fun is just beginning," he promised his son at the end. It was a promise to viewers too, but on this evidence not one that's likely to be kept. You can reboot a programme. It's a lot harder to reboot a craze.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Place Blanche, Paris, 1961, shot by Christer Strömholm
photographyHow the famous camera transformed photography for ever
Arts and Entertainment
The ‘Westmacott Athlete’
art
Arts and Entertainment
‘The Royals’ – a ‘twisted, soapy take on England’s first family’
tv Some of the characters appear to have clear real-life counterparts
News
Brooks is among a dozen show-business professionals ever to have achieved Egot status
people
Arts and Entertainment
A cut above: Sean Penn is outclassed by Mark Rylance in The Gunman
film review
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
James Franco and Zachary Quinto in I Am Michael

Film review Michael Glatze biopic isn't about a self-hating gay man gone straight

Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the movie 'Get Hard'
tvWill Ferrell’s new film Get Hard receives its first reviews
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: David Cameron (Mark Dexter), Nick Clegg (Bertie Carvel) and Gordon Brown (Ian Grieve)
tvReview: Ian Grieve gets another chance to play Gordon Brown... this is the kinder version
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman in the first look picture from next year's Sherlock special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Because it wouldn’t be Glastonbury without people kicking off about the headline acts, a petition has already been launched to stop Kanye West performing on the Saturday night

music
Arts and Entertainment
Molly Risker, Helen Monks, Caden-Ellis Wall, Rebekah Staton, Erin Freeman, Philip Jackson and Alexa Davies in ‘Raised by Wolves’

TV review
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
James May, Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond in the Top Gear Patagonia Special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Game of Thrones will run for ten years if HBO gets its way but showrunners have mentioned ending it after seven

Game of Thrones
Arts and Entertainment
Mans Zelmerlow will perform 'Heroes' for Sweden at the Eurovision Song Contest 2015

music
Arts and Entertainment
Elizabeth (Heida Reed) and Ross Poldark (Aiden Turner) in the BBC's remake of their 1975 original Poldark

Poldark review
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

    Promises, promises

    But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
    The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

    The death of a Gaza fisherman

    He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
    Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
    Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

    The only direction Zayn could go

    We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
    Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

    Spells like teen spirit

    A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
    Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
    Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

    Licence to offend in the land of the free

    Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
    From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

    From farm to fork in Cornwall

    One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
    Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

    Robert Parker interview

    The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
    How to make your own Easter egg: Willie Harcourt-Cooze shares his chocolate recipes

    How to make your own Easter egg

    Willie Harcourt-Cooze talks about his love affair with 'cacao' - and creates an Easter egg especially for The Independent on Sunday
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef declares barbecue season open with his twist on a tradtional Easter Sunday lamb lunch

    Bill Granger's twist on Easter Sunday lunch

    Next weekend, our chef plans to return to his Aussie roots by firing up the barbecue
    Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

    Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

    The England prop relives the highs and lows of last Saturday's remarkable afternoon of Six Nations rugby
    Cricket World Cup 2015: Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?

    Cricket World Cup 2015

    Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?
    The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing