Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Meanwhile, Back at Southfork

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Meanwhile, Back at Southfork

Article excerpt

Who's got J.R.?

That's what you wonder when you first see Larry Hagman sitting motionless in a chair, his character supposedly in a deep depression, somewhere between catatonic and comatose, in tonight's two-hour premiere of TNT's new "Dallas."

But then, J.R. Ewing's son, John Ross (Josh Henderson, "Desperate Housewives"), visits and mentions something about finding oil at Southfork Ranch, and the old man comes alive, blue eyes opening, sly smile forming on his lips. The rascal is back, and it's a marvelous thing to see.

In the original "Dallas," the CBS prime-time soap that aired from 1978 to 1991, everything was big - hair, cast, ranch, ratings, rivalries, cliffhangers, credulity-stretchers.

TNT's new sequel, which is primarily about the next generation of the feuding Ewing clan, looks expensive and well-done, but somehow, everything about it seems smaller.

About the only thing that's still 100 percent recognizable from the original is that famed theme song.

Yes, Hagman returns as J.R., the scheming oil baron; Linda Gray is back as his former wife Sue Ellen, a onetime Miss Texas, and Patrick Duffy reprises his role as Bobby Ewing, the brother who got all the morals and integrity J.R. lacks. But these actors are older now - 80, 71 and 63, respectively - and television is a young person's medium.

While fans of the original show would be happy to watch these three veterans chewing the scenery, TNT is going for a new generation of viewers. And so, the new series' real stars are young bucks Josh Henderson, as John Ross Ewing - J.R. and Sue Ellen's son - and fellow "Desperate Housewives" alumnus Jesse Metcalfe as Christopher Ewing, the adopted son of Bobby and his first wife Pam.

Both boys are chips off the old blocks.

John Ross is a schemer, determined to strike it rich in the oil industry. In fact, he has secretly found a gusher on the Southfork Ranch. …

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