Big oil, hats, money, scheming? "Dallas" is back

Mon Jun 11, 2012 9:19am EDT
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By Jill Serjeant

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - America's most ruthless, scheming TV family is back, bigger and badder than ever.

More than 20 years after conniving oil baron J.R. Ewing put a gun to his head in the 1991 series finale, "Dallas" returns to television on Wednesday in a new version for cable channel TNT with a younger generation joining iconic actors Larry Hagman (J.R.), Linda Gray (Sue Ellen) and Patrick Duffy (Bobby).

The sprawling, white Southfork family ranch, the theme song and the three-way split screen opening titles are just the same.

But "Dallas" has joined the 21st century in many ways - there is even a Ewing committed to alternative energy - and the twisted family saga introduces the grown sons of patriarchs J.R. and Bobby Ewing, their girlfriends, and a steamy love triangle ripe for betrayal, jealousy and manipulation.

The new series was created by Cynthia Cidre with a nod to the show's 1980s heyday and an eye toward the future. With the original "Dallas" still airing in syndication in some parts of the world, the new series has already been sold to 32 countries outside the United States.

"Cynthia gets that it is quite a simple formula but it is about execution," Duffy told Reuters. "She gets the voices of the characters. She doesn't try and re-invent the wheel, and she makes these plots work the same way they worked 30 years ago."

With its oil-rich, bed-hopping characters, glitzy costumes, and big cowboy hats, the 1978-1991 TV series became a worldwide phenomenon and a byword for U.S. glamour and excess.

But today's fast-moving and crowded TV market means that the convoluted "Dallas" plots are more action-packed than in the show's prime when 90 million U.S. viewers and almost 360 million around the world were glued to their TV screens for the famous "Who Shot J.R.?" episode.   Continued...

Actor Larry Hagman and actress Linda Gray are interviewed as they arrive for a VIP Preview party for the Collection of Larry Hagman at Julien’s Auctions in Beverly Hills, California June 1, 2011. Hagman, 79, best-known for playing conniving Texas oil baron J.R. Ewing in the television series "Dallas," is putting furnishings, antiques, art work and personal property from his hilltop California home up for auction, to be held at Julien's Auctions live June 4. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni