Dallas 2.0 inaugural season ends in much the same way as it began: with a reboot.
Let’s bitch it out…For an episode titled ‘Revelations’ I can’t honestly say that there were many as Dallas more or less hits the restart button before heading off into the sunset. When it returns next summer for an expanded second season, it will be with many of the same conflicts as when it began earlier this summer. In a way this is a force of habit: the show exists due to the dramatic tension between the various members of the Ewing clan, so watching John Ross (Josh Henderson) and Christopher (Jesse Metcalfe) start a company and settle down with Elena (Jordana Brewster) and Rebecca (Julie Gonzalo) respectively, would have been creatively stifling. On the flip side, however, starting over exactly where we began feels like the show has simply circled back around, as though nothing truly happened in the last ten episodes because we’re back where we started.
Obviously that’s not entirely the case (Rebecca is now pregnant, Christopher and Elena are together) but the core conflicts are the same: John Ross and JR (Larry Hagman) will continue to undermine Christopher and Bobby (Patrick Duffy) in order to scheme, steal and profit from their respective brother’s various energy projects – be it Christopher’s methane project or the oil sitting under Southfork. And, of course, father and son don’t trust each other, so JR and John Ross will be simultaneously trying to undercut each other. It’s fun, but too familiar – to the extent that I wish the writers had taken more time in this first season to let the story breathe.
If this first season was anything, I think many would consider it a successful experiment. Dallas spent so long on the blocks that it’s a miracle they even managed to get this relaunch off the ground (remember when it was going to be a movie with John Travolta and Jennifer Lopez?!). Considering there were only ten episodes to work with and no guarantee of success, it seems as though Dallas was created almost as a standalone season, designed to satisfyingly wrap up most storylines by the end of its run just in case the series never made it beyond the ten episodes. If you consider it from that point of view, it’s a success: if this were the series finale, it would be satisfying while still offering a taste of where the story would have gone.
Since we know that there’s more to come, however, the finale feels a little disappointing. The majority of the developments served to inform characters about plotlines wth which the audience is already familiar. As a result we get scenes of Christopher discovering Rebecca isn’t who she says she is, or Elena overhearing John Ross admitting guilt in the fraud case. Dramatically the show is tying up loose ends, but narratively it’s a little dull to watch: we already know this, so we’re just watching the characters get caught up.
New elements that we didn’t know, such as the “reveal” that Rebecca is actually Cliff Barnes’ (Ken Kercheval) daughter should cause more excitement, but many of us knew – or expected – that this was coming (commentors on this column have been anticipating this for weeks now). Is it fun because it means a second season of Rebecca and Cliff trying to tear down the Ewings? Definitely. Was it a ‘revelation’? No, not really.
Overall, the relaunch of Dallas has proven itself to be great summer escapism and I’ll admit that I’m excited to see where S2 will go. I also hope that now that TNT and the showrunners know that the show is a hit, they’ll take a few more chances with the stories they tell and let things unfold and expand a little (especially the new generation, who remain mostly placards until JR or Bobby come back onscreen).
It would be nice if S2 didn’t feel the need to rush through its stories so quickly (or in such an obvious way) so that a few more legitimate surprises can take us by surprise.
- I’m glad that we’ve put the whole Venezuelan cartel storyline with Vicente (Carlos Bernard) and Marta/Veronica behind us – partially because it was kinda boring, but mostly because I grew tired of hearing people switch back and forth between Marta and Veronica (it’s a problem with shows that have characters assuming false identities). Imagine how excited (*sarcasm*) I was, then, to discover that Rebecca is not actually Rebecca. Although Dallas 2.0 doesn’t address her by her first name (only “Miss Barnes”), we should receive confirmation in S2 that Rebecca’s real name is Pamela, since that’s the name of Cliff and Afton’s daughter from the original series
- One legitimate surprise in the finale: that Ann (Brenda Strong) doesn’t sleep with ex-husband Rylan Harris (Mitch Pileggi). I totally groaned when I thought that that was where it was headed, so it was a genuine, pleasant surprise when she reveals the wire and gives him a sucker punch to the mouth. Bam!
- So glad that Callard Harris – the actor that plays Tommy – got top guest star billing considering he spent the episode wrapped in plastic. Also, it’s kinda awesome that apparently Cliff Barnes has body disposal “cleaners” on his payroll.
- No drinking game this week as Elena doesn’t even approach food. I’m just glad we didn’t see a sex scene with her because I probably would have gagged seeing all all those bones lurking just beneath the surface of her skeletal body
- Finally, I really liked the scene when JR barges into Bobby’s room post-surgery and confesses to his unconscious brother that he can’t die because he needs him “to keep fighting me.” If anything has defined Dallas, it’s been the battle between the two entitled brothers. JR’s statement is 100% true: these two (and now Christopher vs John Ross) have built their entire identity around their conflict with each other. I’ll reappropriate Sue Ellen’s (Linda Gray) campaign slogan (“I. AM. TEXAS”) and suggest that the Bobby/JR relationship IS Dallas
- John Ross (proposing to Elena): “When I saw this ring, I remembered how light reflects off a well. I thought nothing could be more beautiful. And then I saw you” I guess this is romance for a Ewing oilman?
- JR (to Bobby as Lou, the lawyer, exits): “You know you’ve hit a new low when even a lawyer won’t insult you.”
- Ann (to Rylan): “The next time you ask me for a hug, you’ll be hugging the business end of my shotgun.”
- JR: “Life is cheap in prison, Vicente, and I’m a very rich man.”
And that’s a wrap on S1. Will you be back next summer to watch what trouble faux-Rebecca stirs up? Do you wish the finale had had more revelations? Are you rooting for Christopher and Elena? Are you excited that the show has more or less rebooted back to where we were at the start of the season? Hit the comments below with your thoughts
Dallas has completed its first season and will return for a second season run in 2013