Southfork Reloaded: The Revival of Dallas Makes Rachel Cooke Nostalgic for the 1980s

By Cooke, Rachel | New Statesman (1996), September 7, 2012 | Go to article overview

Southfork Reloaded: The Revival of Dallas Makes Rachel Cooke Nostalgic for the 1980s


Cooke, Rachel, New Statesman (1996)


Dallas

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One of my many worries about the return of Dallas (Wednesdays, 9pm) was that its producers would attempt to make the cast look like real millionaires and Southfork like the kind of place a real millionaire would live. But, no: the family ranch still looks like Barbie's house, its swimming pool the size of a Chigwell hot tub, its kitchen so dinky Sue Ellen can reach for the ice box and the drinks trolley at the same time, no problem. The women still favour earrings that look as if they came from Walgreens, and the men the kind of high-waisted jeans you would have to ransack J C Penney to find.

The producers still don't splash out on extras either--at Christopher Ewing's wedding there were 30 guests max, for all that the Ewings are at the very pinnacle of Dallas society. And when the Southfork cook passes round the canapes, you can't help but notice that her platter is laden with something that was probably made by Sara Lee and only recently defrosted.

All in all, this is unexpectedly comforting. So, too, is the presence of quite a few of the original cast: Patrick Duffy as Bobby, Linda Gray as Sue Ellen, Larry Hagman as JR, Charlene Tilton as Lucy, Steve Kanaly as Ray Krebbs. (Come on, you remember Ray! He was Jock Ewing's illegitimate son. Lucy? She was, um, some sort of miniature cousin.) They have aged so spookily little, it's as if some far-thinking network executive had them all cryogenically frozen. The only (thing that has changed even slightly is JR's eyebrows, which are now so fabulously luxuriant and perky they resemble a pair of bull-horns.

Also immaculately preserved: their ropy acting skills. When Bobby is in pain--apparently he is dying of stomach cancer--he looks like he is trying to fart silently. When Sue Ellen is angry--Bobby wants to sell Southfork, which will destroy the plans of her son, John Ross, who has just discovered a two-billion-barrel reserve of crude in one of its fields--she looks like she is trying to remember if she applied her deodorant. Later on in Dallas 2012, Sue Ellen is, I read, to stand for governor of Texas. I can't wait to see her face when she starts grappling with the state's budget deficit. …

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