[13 June 2012]
PopMatters Film and TV Editor
“I love you. Nothing’s ever gonna get in the way of that.” Uh-huh. And as soon as Chris Ewing (Jesse Metcalfe) essays these words, you know he’s in trouble. He’s talking to his new wife Rebecca (Julie Gonzalo), or at least the person he imagines is his new wife. But it’s already three episodes into the latest iteration of Dallas, which means he’s already knee-deep in scandal and lies and betrayal. He doesn’t know yet, quite how noisy and brutal his education will be, but you know, because even if you’ve never seen the Dallas of the 1980s, you know the Dallas of 2012.
Again, two men in jeans and cowboy hats are fighting over South Fork, the ranch that caused so much consternation for Bobby (Patrick Duffy) and JR (Larry Hagman). They return here, to muck up the next generation’s ambitions and schemes. The update is nominal: Chris, the Good One, means to return the Ewing name to prominence via alternative fuels research, while the Bad One, John Ross (Josh Henderson), is determined to drill-baby-drill on the ranch. (Bobby has a special resistance to this plan, as his sainted dead mama, once Barbara Bel Geddes, then Donna Reed, wanted the land un-drilled.) JR takes up John Ross’ cause, Bobby wants to support the “foundling” Chris (“He’s not even a Ewing,” sneers JR), and they all consort with women to get their deeds done.
When Chris isn’t insisting on his love for Rebecca, he’s fretting over his ongoing desire for Elena-the-cook’s-daughter (Jordana Brewster). Sue Ellen (Linda Gray) arrives for Chris’ wedding and to offer her services to John Ross (“I know you are disdainful of my connections, but they are powerful”), and a conservator’s daughter, the elaborately named Marta Del Sol (Leonor Varela), provides melodrama passing as intrigue. Indeed, it’s her appearance near the end of the two-part premiere episode, striding across Cowboys Stadium to meet with her collaborator on the Dallas Cowboys Star that suggests what’s at stake here. It’s a moment at once audacious and silly, and not nearly TO enough.