Saturday, June 16, 2012

Pilot Review: Dallas

Dallas (TNT)
Premiered June 13 at 9pm

This summer’s most buzzed-about new show has arrived, and it’s just as advertised. Since I was born in the late 1980s, I’ve never actually seen the original series that ran for a staggering fourteen seasons. This show has been described as a continuation of the original show rather than a reboot or a remake, but I’m happy to say that it stands well enough on its own, using the actors and characters that were featured on the original series in supporting rather than lead roles. The show boasts an old-fashioned look most evident in its opening credits, and it’s most definitely a primetime soap opera. The Ewing characters are firmly established as determined, egotistical businessmen desperate for power. The amount of duplicity and manipulation going on in Dallas is appalling, but that’s what makes it so fun. There’s not one clean character in the entire series, and each scene brings a new level of lying and deceit. The show would probably be better off without tech talk about extracting methane, but the show does need a plot to drive it. The younger stars are well-suited for their roles, some more heavily-accented than others. Josh Henderson looks alarmingly like Jonathan Rhys-Meyers with his mustache, and Jesse Metcalfe seems like he belongs in Texas. It’s interesting to see Jordana Brewster from “The Fast and the Furious” as the girl caught in between the two warring Ewing cousins, and Julie Gonzalo as the nice one’s new wife with plenty of secrets of her own. The older folks are still kicking too, and both Ewing patriarch are quickly established and defined. This soapy show definitely has an appeal, and though I’m not sure I’ll stick with it for that long, it should be good summer fun for a while.

How will it work as a series? There’s so much scheming to be found on this show, and that creates webs upon webs of intersecting plotlines from which to spin off. If the original series could produce fourteen seasons and this one has a whole new cast of young characters, there’s no telling how much material can be milked from this particular property.
How long will it last? A while. Given how long the original series ran, this one could go forever too, but it’s most crucial that it’s on TNT, which has found plenty of success with original programming lately and will be thrilled to add this show, whose pilot is officially the highest-rated cable series premiere this year, to its regular roster. I’d expect a renewal very shortly.

Pilot grade: B-

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