Dallas reboot fails to strike it rich

Dallas
Wednesdays, 9pm, Nine

What's it all about?

A reboot of the prime-time soapie that ran over 357 episodes from 1978 to 1991 and gave us the immortal cliffhanger-cum-ad-campaign ‘‘Who shot JR?’’ as well as the world's longest dream sequence (all 31 episodes of the 1985 season).

Our view

OMG, it's as if the last 21 years never happened. One minute I'm in the shower, the next I'm watching that familiar title sequence and hearing that old theme music again. I guess all those Dallas-deprived years must have been nothing but a terrible dream.

The boys are back in town: there's Bobby (Patrick Duffy), and there's JR (Larry Hagman), both looking a little old and haggard. But since I thought he was dead, I guess Hagman isn't looking too bad, really, all things considered.

Here comes Sue Ellen (Linda Gray); ooh, has she ever had some work done. Here's lil ol' Lucy Ewing (Charlene Tilton) too, as top-heavy as ever.

But this ain't the '80s no more. The world has moved on. Oils ain't just oils, Sol - they're atmosphere-polluting carbon-rich non-renewables. And even the Ewings - well, some of them - have caught on.

While JR's son John-Ross (Josh Henderson) is itching to get back into the oil business, secretly drilling on uncle Bobby's ranch, Southfork, Bobby's adopted son Chris (Jesse Metcalfe, the spunky gardener from Desperate Housewives) is making a play in what passes for the clean energy business in Texas.

John-Ross has struck the mother lode (cue obligatory scenes of him and his hot girlfriend rubbing oil into their already-glistening young bodies), but Bobby doesn't want a bar (or barrel) of it. He's sick of oil, sick of the way the Ewings have been torn apart over money, and just plain sick. Yep, he’s got stomach cancer and time is running out, fast. No biggie. He'll get round to that chemo just as soon as Chris has married Rebecca (Julie Gonzalo). And right after he's given the ranch away to a wildlife trust. But first he needs to get a haircut and tidy his room. And have a shower, of course.

Meanwhile, Chris reckons he's learnt how to extract methane from the ocean, in easy-to-transport ice form (is it just an accident that it looks like a big block of crystal meth?) It's clean. It's green. It's the future. But whoops. It also causes earthquakes. What the frack?

All of which is enough to rouse JR from his depression - and drug-induced catatonic state (who shot-up JR?) just in time to get back to what he does best: being a bastard. Yay!

So far, so familiar. And that's the problem with Dallas redux. Its thunder in the glamodrama stakes has been stolen by Revenge, a smart reboot of the genre that brilliantly married its debts to the original (Conrad Grayson hides out at the South Fork Inn, for instance) with a really smart and of-the-moment take on compromised morality.

By comparison, the Dallas cowboy (re)boot looks kind of tired and predictable, the producers largely satisfied with the tactic of stuffing fresh young actors into a well-established format, and surrounding them with the old-stagers to ease the transition.

Still, there's plenty of promise in JR playing dirty all over again, even if Hagman is looking so haggard that you're torn between rooting for him to shake things up a bit and asking if he'd like a nice hot cup of tea and a Ginger Snap before shuffling off to bed.

In a sentence

It may not make shoulder pads fashionable again (dear God, no), but Dallas does its best to prove that bad behaviour never goes out of style.

Best bit

JR's eyebrows. They deserve a show of their own.

Worst bit

Linda Gray's "work".

Worth watching again?

From the point JR rouses himself from his chair of death, just about.

Grade: B-

The story Dallas reboot fails to strike it rich first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.

Smartphone
Tablet - Narrow
Tablet - Wide
Desktop