Dallas review – 1×10: ‘Revelations’

Courtesy of TNT

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.

Courtesy of TNT

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.

Other Observations:

  • 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

Best Lines:

  • 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

About cinephilactic

cinephilactic is a university contract instructor in Film Studies. He is an avid TV watcher, particularly science-fiction, fantasy and drama series. His favourite shows currently airing on TV include The Good Wife, Breaking Bad, Justified, Hannibal, Game Of Thrones and a smattering of shows on The CW. He has a tendency to "hate-watch" particular shows and likes to think that his sarcastic voice comes through in his reviews, though sometimes he's just being bitchy

6 thoughts on “Dallas review – 1×10: ‘Revelations’

  1. I am annoyed that two of the female characters introduced this season were fake. Will we continue to refer to Miss Barnes as Rebecca? How icky is it that she married her adopted first cousin? Why did everyone continue to refer to Marta although everyone knew her real name was Veronica at this point.

    While you are correct that this episode wraps up the season, and if it had been necessary, the series, I can’t help but feel nostalgic for all those great season-ending cliffhangers of years past. I think the prior episode would have made a far superior season ender and kept the audience guess…

    So, for the rest of the summer, I’m going to wonder if Elena really is who she says she is…

  2. i love the show. Just hope they can continue with original characters for a long time. Lets face it Hagman is old . He makes the show. It has been a long time comming and wish the would justget on with the story so we dont end up with a lost season or a series that just suddenly dies ! I grew up watching the show and this is not a remake. Cootoz for the people who had the balls to bring it back with so much of the original cast!

    • Well, hopefully Hagman’s health will hold out (he’s in remission from cancer), but you’re right, he and Linda Gray are getting up there in years. That’s why they need to make us care about the new gen a little more. The originals won’t be around forever!

  3. Is Julie Gonzalo’s “Miss Barnes” necessarily Pamela Rebecca Cooper? I think Christopher had met her previuosly, so I’d think he ought to recognize her, even if it’s been awhile.

    But regardless, how long is Cliff going to hold a grudge about Jock and Digger? The original series ended with him OWNING Ewing Oil. He won. What more could he want? What’s the point of destroying his nephew, who is about the only connection he has to Pam?

    • I’m hoping that we’ll see more of Cliff (after JR he’s definitely the most iconic of Dallas characters to me), so perhaps we’ll get confirmation of his intentions and exactly who “Rebecca” is. As for holding that grudge, something tells me that’ll never go away!

    • To answer my own question, according to Cynthia Cidre, she is indeed Pamela Cooper.

      http://www.tvguide.com/News/Dallas-Finale-Interview-1051815.aspx

      “I knew all along she was going to be Cliff’s daughter, and I didn’t think that many fans would pick up on the name. So I used her middle name to keep people guessing.”

      Oh, Cynthia, EVERYONE picked up on the name! TVG asks the ensuing question…

      TV Guide Magazine: “So was it just a fortunate coincidence that Rebecca happened to partner up with that no-good Tommy Sutter who had a real sister also named Rebecca?”

      Cidre: “Yes, actually. She was using her middle name and Becky Sutter’s identity.”

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