Stetsons, feuds, oil, and now Botox. Yes, Dallas is back


Click to follow
The Independent Online

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 J.R. really did shoot himself, as the closing moments of the original series hinted.

Instead, TNT's extension of one of the most valuable franchises in television history begins by building 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 down that thur hole. The bad? The hole is in Southfork and John Ross Jr hasn't yet told his Uncle Bobby that he's ignored his instructions not to drill in the back garden.

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. He 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.

J.R., 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 has been kind to all three, though it occasionally strikes you as fortunate that the drama has never required a huge expressive variability.

The veterans are really there as walking pieces of memorabilia; 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.

But it doesn't take long for the favourite monster to be up and walking again: after John Ross whispers a tonic of bile, rage and prospective oil profits into his ear, J.R.'s eyelids flicker open and a wintery smile of pleasure breaks on 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. But on this evidence that's hard to believe. You can reboot a programme. It's a lot harder to reboot a craze.