Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Looking to Strike Oil 'Dallas' and Its 3 Stars Take Up Where the Show Left off in 1998

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Looking to Strike Oil 'Dallas' and Its 3 Stars Take Up Where the Show Left off in 1998

Article excerpt

PASADENA, Calif. --

TV is rife with remakes and reboots, from "Star Trek: The Next Generation" to a new "Beauty and the Beast" (based on the 1980s CBS show) due to air on The CW this fall. But a continuation of a long- running hit that picks up 21 years after the original series ended with original cast members intact is more unusual. And that's exactly what TNT's "Dallas" does.

Premiering this week with two back-to-back episodes Wednesday at 9 p.m., the new "Dallas" continues the story that effectively ended with the last "Dallas" TV movie that aired in 1998.

And although this new "Dallas" introduces a younger roster of cast members, "the big three" -- as executive producer Cynthia Cidre ("Cane") calls Larry Hagman (back as J.R. Ewing), Patrick Duffy (Bobby Ewing) and Linda Gray (Sue Ellen Ewing) -- remain prominent in every episode alongside a younger cast, several of whom were born the year of the "Who shot J.R.?" cliffhanger.

"It was never the intent to use the big three as bait for the new show," Ms. Cidre said at a TNT news conference in January. "It was really to integrate them fully with the new cast. ... It's not two separate story lines."

Executive producer Michael M. Robin said the new "Dallas" attempts to honor all the intricate plots of the original.

"Basically we've dropped back in 20 years later, and a lot of the storytelling elements are very similar in terms of the way that you have this big, epic family conflict," he said.

Indeed, that last TV movie was titled "War of the Ewings," which could also be the title for the first season of this "Dallas" continuation as J.R. and Bobby battle over Southfork and their sons, John Ross (Josh Henderson, "Over There") and Christopher (Jesse Metcalfe, "Desperate Housewives"), fight over whether the family should continue to drill for oil or invest in alternative energy.

"The interpersonal dynamics and the interpersonal fights are in place," Mr. Robin said. "We've tried to make sure that as we've brought this forward and freshened it with all these new faces that you get to watch the real generational fight within the family. These are the things that people love."

Some fans also love continuity, something Ms. Cidre said she never wanted to violate from the past 357 episodes of the series.

"Whenever we were making a choice in the present, somebody's researching all 357 episodes. ... We just want to honor the original show and the original conception of the show, its history," she said. Not that there will be perfect continuity; something is bound to slip through the cracks. "Surely there will be an email about something but it was an accident. It was not meant to be that way."

For the show's original returning cast members, who do seem legitimately chummy in a way that defies the fake Hollywood family story so often ascribed to TV show casts, the opportunity to work together again was seen as a godsend. …

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