Benedict Cumberbatch wears his sunglasses on set, while Martin Freeman tries to stay warm.
TV review: Dallas
Josh Henderson and Larry Hagman in Dallas. Image. Channel 5
A continuation of the classic TV soap opera that ran from 1978 to 1991. The legendary drama has been revived for a new generation, retaining original cast members Patrick Duffy, Linda Gray and the irreplaceable Larry Hagman.
The moment THAT theme tune blasted out the speakers (complete with updated opening titles reverent to the original), I knew we were in safe hands.
The worst moment was the silly scene when Christopher Ewing received bad news about the safety of his alternative energy scheme via a webchat; it was very flukily overheard by someone entering the room...
If you're under 35, you may not recall watching the original series of Dallas, but surely every TV fan is aware of the famous "who shot JR?" cliffhanger.
"Surely every TV fan is aware of the famous "who shot JR?" cliffhanger."
Dallas produced 357 episodes over 13 years, but the second season cliffhanger was undoubtedly its crowning glory; antihero JR Ewing (Larry Hagman) was shot by an unseen assailant.
For months the entire planet wondered who had fired the gun. The culprit was revealed to be JR's sister-in-law, Kristen Shepherd. Dirty, dirty man! No wonder he drove his poor wife Sue Ellen (Linda Gray) - or Swellin' as JR still pronounces it - to the bottle.
Dallas' other claim to everlasting TV fame is less reputable.
Season nine had to be written off as a dream of Pamela Ewing's (Victoria Principal) in order to undo the 'death' of husband Bobby. Patrick Duffy had left the show, and his character had been killed off. A nightmare lasting an entire season was the only way he could be brought back so Pam woke up and found Bobby alive and well in the shower.
The decision to resurrect a show that had been dormant for 21 years (ignoring two TV movies, as this revival does) could have been written off as a shallow attempt to exploit Dallas' cachet in pop-culture.
How Dallas gets it right
As it turns out, the 2012 continuation of Dallas gets an impressive amount right so it's unlikely to offend existing fans, while inviting new ones into the world of the fightin', fussin', feudin' Ewings.
"This new Dallas cleverly pushes the family drama forward"
This new Dallas cleverly pushes the family drama forward two decades to a fresh rivalry between JR's son John Ross Ewing III (Josh Henderson) and Christopher Ewing (Jesse Metcalfe), adopted son of Bobby.
Like father, like son is a trite proverb, but it's a reliable way to resume the show's themes of family enmity, honour and greed.
Genial Christopher's keen to reorient the family name as a byword for clean, renewable energy.
Meanwhile, ambitious John Ross wants to overturn his grandmother Miss Ellie's dying wish and drill for oil on Southfork, after discovering a billion barrels of crude.
Even better is how Bobby and JR are positioned; first as old bulls about to be put out to pasture (Bobby has terminal cancer and JR's rotting away in a nursing home), and then they're dragged back into the fight over their beloved Southfork Ranch and Ewing Oil by their kids.
It's just as ol' JR says: "Blood may be thicker than water, but oil is thicker than both." Sue Ellen appears to share that view; a powerful woman, her son's interests continue to be her main concern.
The original cast step back into their roles as if they've never been away. Of the latest recruits, Josh Henderson impresses as the chip off the old block and Brenda Strong is a natural fit as Bobby's wife. Jesse Metcalfe will get the ladies going, but he's rather bland as Christopher.
Did you like the new version of Dallas?
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- 85 %Yes - it was worthy of the original series
- No - they shouldn't have brought it back
I enjoyed Dallas' return far more than I expected because executive producer Cynthia Cidre, who wrote this pilot script, was respectful of its status and lineage. In addition, she appears to have found a viable way to restage the show for a younger generation.
The old cast and the new work together in stylish harmony and the story was involving. You should forgive and/or overlook the falling back on soap clichés (sibling rivalry, secret cancer, love triangle etc) because it wouldn't be Dallas otherwise.
This new version is big, it's bold, it looks beautiful, and 80-year-old TV icon Larry Hagman still cuts a formidable figure in his white Stetson as JR.
The scene where the old schemer's pallid, wrinkled face flickered back to life at the mention of family trouble and the promise of more riches was masterful.
It's good to have a living legend back on our screens in a production that's worthy of his presence. If Dallas maintains this quality, it could become the best TV revival since Doctor Who.
- Verdict: If anyone behind the failed revamp of Melrose Place is watching - this is how you revive soapy drama.
The views in this article are those of the author alone and not of MSN or Microsoft
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