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Why J.R. Ewing Makes the New Dallas

First season of the TNTDallas reboot was lots of damn good guilty-pleasure fun, thanks to the classics.

Bridget Johnson


August 9, 2012 - 10:20 am
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Put it this way — if it was just the new, young characters (J.R.’s kid John Ross Ewing and Bobby’s kid Christopher Ewing, and their lady loves) who can be on the whiny and annoying side, the only cool part of the show would be how TNT kept the original Dallas theme and similar opening sequence. But it’s the old characters who make the show — a septuagenerian and octogenarian fighting like they didn’t miss a beat.

J.R.’s 81st birthday is next month, and Hagman recently commented that he wants to play the oil baron until he’s 90. And I have every faith that, health cooperating, he could. The writers are giving him great one-liners and he still rules the small screen, not the younger characters. He goes from nursing-home catatonic to the Cattle Barron’s Ball in the blink of a mention of a million-barrel reserve. He doesn’t miss a trick or scheme even in a brief moment of sentimentality. Not only has J.R. not gone to mush, but he now has wicked eyebrows and, in last night’s closer, burst with pride when John Ross asked his dad to show him every dirty trick he knows. “Now that’s my son, tip to tail,” J.R. says before he drinks to it.

J.R.’s all-of-the-above energy strategy includes hitting below the belt. Bobby’s son accidentally married and impregnated Cliff Barnes’ daughter. They’re still fighting over Southfork. The characters tweet now (favorite from J.R.: “Cliff Barnes… you complete me”). And the show sets the most dramatic moments to a Johnny Cash soundtrack. They’ve roped me in for Season Two.

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Bridget Johnson is a veteran journalist whose news articles and opinion columns have run in dozens of news outlets across the globe. Bridget first came to Washington to be online editor at The Hill, where she wrote The World from The Hill column on foreign policy. Previously she was an opinion writer and editorial board member at the Rocky Mountain News and nation/world news columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. She is an NPR contributor and has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, National Review Online, Politico and more, and has myriad television and radio credits as a commentator. Bridget is Washington Editor for PJ Media.
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