LOS ANGELES, February 23, 2014 — Cue the theme music. Show the picture of Texas Stadium. Bring back the wheeling, dealing and stealing. The last Monday in February brings back the relaunched Dallas for its third season, airing on TNT.
In the second season finale, the mystery of who killed J.R. Ewing was finally revealed. J.R. hired his dear friend and private investigator Bum to kill him. J.R. was being ravaged by cancer, and his final masterpiece was to make sure that his archrival Cliff Barnes was framed for his death.
In a Mexican jail, Cliff convinced Elena Ramos that he had paperwork showing that the entire Ewing fortune is based on a fraud. J.R. cheated Elena’s father by making sure that the Ewings owned the oil-rich land while the Ramoses received dry dirt. Now that J.R. is gone, time will tell if Cliff’s story is true.
Even more important than the death of J.R. Ewing was the death of the great Larry Hagman, the actor who made J.R. famous. Hagman himself lost his battle with cancer in 2013, leading to the revised storylines. Hagman played J.R. on the original Dallas from 1978 through 1991, in addition to a pair of Dallas movies in 1996 and 1998. When Dallas was relaunched in 2012, J.R. was as dastardly as ever.
Now Hagman and J.R. are both in the great big oil rig in the sky. The show is attempting to do what seems like an impossible task. Dallas is going to continue without Larry Hagman. This leads to the burning questions heading into season three.
1) Can Josh Henderson carry the show?
Henderson plays J.R.’s son John Ross, a chip off the old block. As John Ross tells people he confronts, his daddy taught him every trick in the book. If Josh Henderson succeeds, the show succeeds.
2) What does John Ross have to do to capture the essence of J.R.?
What made J.R. Ewing such a great character was that he was not a villain. He was an anti-hero, an important distinction. J.R. would do anything to protect his family. He was charming and likable. John Ross has to show his human side. He has to be bad enough to make things interesting, but with some deep down decency to keep from being just a villain.
3) How much further down can Cliff Barnes go?
Executive Producer Cynthia Cidre has gotten mostly everything right with the development of the characters. The one area where Dallas has changed was in turning Cliff Barnes from a hapless rival to an outright villain. Cliff ordered a bomb aboard a ship even though he knew his pregnant daughter was on it. The blast killed his grandchildren to be. This was an act of evil, and not who Cliff was. Cliff needs to be reined in, or there is no way his character can last. Ken Kercheval has always made Cliff a sympathetic victim. Going forward that will be a tougher task. The only way to explain the shift would be if Cliff has simply gone mad.
4) Will the show get political?
While Larry Hagman was political, J.R. Ewing was for whatever benefitted J.R. Ewing. An early plotline on the Dallas relaunch saw a battle between alternative energy vs oil. The show smartly did not take sides. There was a corrupt governor, but his ideology was never disclosed. Dallas has avoided politics, and would be wise to continue doing so.
5) Is Julie Gonzalo one of the most beautiful women on Earth?
Absolutely. The actress who plays Pamela Rebecca Barnes is a stunner. She lights up the screen as the bad girl trying to be good. She is the second most important person on the show behind Josh Henderson.
John Ross and Christopher will continue fighting, Bobby will want peace, and Sue Ellen will probably put her son John Ross’s well being above overall family harmony. As for the rest, as the late J.R. would say, tune in darling.