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Dallas season two: Larry Hagman's JR Ewing still thrills
Dallas' Patrick Duffy, Josh Henderson and Larry Hagman. Image. Channel 5
TNT's revival of Dallas kicks off its second season on Channel 5, premiering a day after its US premiere. The downside? The US premiere was a double-bill, meaning British fans will now be an episode behind our American cousins, but that's preferable to season one's three-month delay.
I'm not keen on the sub-plot with Sue Ellen (Linda Gray) running for governor. Having seen intricate politics play out in dramas such as The Good Wife, this feels unconvincing.
Linda Gray may also be part of the original show's 'holy trinity' (along with Hagman and Patrick Duffy as Bobby Ewing), but she's the lesser actor of the three.
I always get a tingle of excitement whenever the late Larry Hagman's around as JR Ewing; he's the embodiment of the show and a huge pop-culture icon.
Hagman didn't get many scenes (understandably) and a couple of his one-liners sounded clichéd ("vengeance is a dish best served cold"), but the twinkle in his eyes overcame a great deal.
Season one only ended in the UK last December, but Dallas is back already for a second run. I can comfortably say this revival has been an unexpected success, mainly because showrunner Cynthia Cidre quickly established a fantastic balance between old and new.
The new, glossier Dallas has reverence for the original characters and its long history, but it never feels like a closed door to newcomers.
"This revival has been an unexpected success"
The decision to have the show focus on the Ewing children - eco-warrior Christopher (Jesse Metcale) and his deceitful cousin John Ross (Josh Henderson) - was a masterstroke.
It still allows for excellent support from the elders of their tribe - equable Bobby and power-hungry tycoon JR.
This premiere wasted no time in getting down to business, with an almost comical amount of double-crossing going on.
Christopher discovered his estranged wife Rebecca Sutter (Julie Gonzalo) is actually the daughter of his family's arch-enemy Cliff Barnes, and now 'Pamela Rebecca Barnes' wants a chunk of their fortune through divorce.
Annie's (Brenda Strong) leverage over scheming first husband Harris Ryland (Mitch Pileggi) prevent him blackmailing Sue Ellen for political favours.
However, it all changed when he discovered - then revealed - the whereabouts of their long-lost daughter and used that knowledge against her.
JR is still the one to watch
John Ross and JR are still plotting to take over the family business from under everyone's noses. Meanwhile, Christopher intends to sell methane-fuelled vehicles to the city via the endorsement of a famous NASCAR racer.
Will you carry on watching Dallas without Larry Hagman?
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- 88 %Yes - the show must go on
- No - he was the show
I have a lot of time for Dallas. It's a little stupid at times with some stilted acting, but the story moves with strong purpose and alacrity.
There's too often a feeling nobody and nothing can be trusted because Dallas's lifeblood is revealing dishonesties almost every week, but in some ways that's part of the charm.
You know what you're getting with a frothy hour of Dallas, and it duly delivers on beautiful scenery, attractive actors, living soap legends, and the occasional curveball over a character's allegiance that works.
Yes, there are better dramas with sharper performances, but thanks to a swift pace and sense of heartfelt pride in its own identity, Dallas is that rare thing: a full-blooded revival that doesn't solely rely on nostalgia and brand recognition.
What's more, in Larry Hagman, it has - and had - a man still able to steal scenes from younger, prettier whippersnappers simply by walking into a room.
- Verdict: Dallas remains an entertaining hour of glamour, intrigue and backstabbing.
What other reviewers said:
The Telegraph - "With the sad death of Hagman, Dallas faces a real problem."
Digital Spy - "Outside of the plot twists and 'serious' acting, there was plenty to revel in for those who enjoy the soapy antics of Dallas."
What people said on Twitter:
@TVKev (Daily Mirror critic, Kevin O'Sullivan) - "Good to see JR still in Dallas tonight. We shall not see his like again..."
@Ed_StarOnSunday (Daily Star's Edward Gleave) - "Tough question: is the best thing about Dallas Linda Gray or the theme tune?! #dallas"
@UltimateDallas - "My full name is Pamela Rebecca Barnes, Cliff Barnes is my father. I'm Afton's daugher" - love this scene with @julie_gonzalo #Dallas."
The views in this article are those of the author alone and not of MSN or Microsoft
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