Always a master of understatement, Bobby Ewing at some point during “Family Business,” Wednesday night’s episode of “Dallas,” says, “This family’s in trouble.”
Yes, Bobby. It’s been that way since the 1970s and frankly we wouldn’t have it any other way.
I was a little skeptical when TNT announced its continuation of “Dallas.” Various prequels and sequels to the great nighttime soap have been attempted before, including an “early years” TV movie featuring the younger days of Jock Ewing, Ellie Farnsworth and Cliff Barnes. None had absolutely clicked and none was very successful.
But TNT’s series, set in modern day a couple of decades after we last saw the Ewings, works and works very well.
I don’t usually get to see TV shows in advance, but I got my hands on the last couple of episodes of the season. I’m here to tell you, darlin’, they’re good. They very well might rank up there, purely in terms of soapy storyline and good scenes for characters, with the best of the old show.
If you’ve been watching, you know that cousins John Ross and Christopher (Jesse Metcalf and Josh Henderson), the sons of J.R. and Bobby, have been struggling through various personal dramas, especially their dealings with the women in their lives, maid’s daughter Elena (Jordana Brewster) and good-girl-with-a-secret Rebecca (Julie Gonzalo). This has played out in front of a backdrop of struggle over control of South Fork Ranch and the possibility of drilling for oil on the land.
In Wednesday’s next-to-last episode of the season, the cousins also turn to family doings and business dealings as a Ewing has a health crisis and the cousins consider the unthinkable (at least for their fathers): Working together.
If it sounds like there’s a lot of emphasis on the younger Ewings, that’s true. But the older generation really gets all the best moments.
One gets the aforementioned health crisis, while another meets a career turning point. There’s blackmail and skullduggery aplenty.
“Dallas” always worked best when it got a lot of the Ewings together under one roof, whether it was Southfork Ranch or the Ewing Oil office. Wednesday’s episode does just that and everything really clicks, whether it’s downright touching scenes between J.R. (Larry Hagman, who’s wonderful) and John Ross or J.R. and Bobby (Patrick Duffy).
There’s also good stuff for Bobby’s wife, Ann (Brenda Strong), and J.R.’s ex, Sue Ellen (Linda Gray).
“He called me wife number three,” an irritated Ann says to Sue Ellen after an encounter with J.R. Sue Ellen allows that she knows: She gave J.R. a good slap in return.
The ratings for the show have been good and it’s already been renewed for a second season. The unlikely success of the series must have been on the minds of the writers when they had J.R. – who else – say, “I’m back, honey, and I’m gonna be bigger than ever.”
No big spoilers for this or the season finale, but there are some fun twists and turns in the stories and big changes for the characters.
And somebody ends up on the unlucky end of a gun.
Check out “Dallas” and its next-to-last episode of the season at 9 p.m. Wednesday.