TNT’s Dallas Generates Summer Buzz

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If a bullet to the chest at point blank range couldn’t stop J.R. Ewing, what chance did CSI reruns stand? TNT’s continuation of Dallas debuted to 6.9 million viewers June 13, making it the best cable premiere for a scripted show this year.

It’s also doing well in social media, as quotes from J.R. are popping up in Facebook timelines and trending on Twitter. I predict there will be a book of J.R. – isms soon, possibly in time for Christmas.

Patrick Duffy, reprising his role as heroic Bobby Ewing, doesn’t like the terms reboot or remake. On the Tonight Show, he told Jay Leno that time has passed naturally for the characters. From their viewpoint, everyone just forgot to check in on them for a couple of decades. This show assumes you’ve suddenly found them again. J.R. is still a snake. Bobby still hopes he can hold the family together. The rest of the family is still getting caught in the inevitable crossfire. That includes Linda Gray’s returning Sue Ellen, now contemplating a run for Texas governor.

The new castmembers make the show just Teri Hatcher or Eva Longoria short of a full-fledged Desperate Housewives reunion. Brenda Strong, the reliable narrator of Housewives, steps back onto the screen as Bobby’s new wife Ann. Josh Henderson who played Austin McCann on Housewives fame is John Ross Ewing III, just as ruthless as his father before him. Another Housewives alum, Jesse Metcalfe plays Bobby’s adopted son Christopher. He’s always felt he has to earn his way into the Ewing family with a huge business deal. Housewives was one of the most successful nighttime soaps in years, so it’s no accident Dallas pulled heavily from that cast.

Jordana Brewster portrays Elena Ramos, the lovely young girl who both Ewing cousins are enamored with.  She did a stint on CBS’ daytime sudser As The World Turns before finding fame in The Fast and the Furious films. In true soap fashion, Christopher marries another woman though he still loves Elena. Julie Gonzalo, who’s appeared in main character-named shows Veronica Mars and Eli Stone, is the unlucky bride Rebecca.

There’s plenty of shirtless Metcalfe and wistful looks from Brewster for younger viewers.  Larry Hagman’s J.R.  is still the driving force at Southfork though. His devil-horn eyebrows may earn Emmy nominations themselves.  In the third episode, he tells some shady Venezuelan business contacts you learn who a man is from his friends and enemies.

“My friends are at the statehouse,” he says. “My enemies are gonna be harder to find.”

TNT initially ordered 10 episodes, and hasn’t given word on renewal. Dallas’ launch drew better ratings than current TNT tentpoles Rizzoli & Isles or Falling Skies. With the water cooler talk surrounding Dallas, we should hear a thumbs-up from TNT soon.

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