‘Dallas’ returns strong, builds to goodbye to JR

larry_hagman_dallas_season two

It was, perhaps, inevitable. After battling cancer for years, Larry Hagman – beloved by a couple of generations of soap opera watchers as J.R. Ewing of “Dallas” – succumbed last November, after filming a few episodes of the second season of the “Dallas” revival on TNT.

TNT and producer Cynthia Cidre – the latter responsible for the topnotch return of the series last year – have said they’ll pay homage to not only Hagman but the famous “Who Shot J.R.” storyline from the show’s original run decades ago by killing off J.R. in an upcoming episode.

The passing of the Texas oil man and winking conniver and womanizer will have a big impact on the show. I’m not convinced we’ll see a third season, but that depends on how much viewers judge the series has lost because of Hagman’s passing.

In the meantime, let’s all raise a glass – even if imaginary – of bourbon and branch and enjoy Hagman as J.R. while we still have him. We can start Monday night, when the new season begins.

I’ve seen the first two hours and found them like the best of the first season: Enjoyable soapy goings-on with misunderstandings, back stabbings and intrigue aplenty.

As Bobby, his son Christopher and J.R.’s son John Ross jump-start Ewing Energies, all the characters have some good scenes. John Ross picks up the bride to be at a bachelorette party and beds her to blackmail her father, uttering the immortal phrase, “Love is for pussies.”

Christopher’s bride, Rebecca – revealed last season to be the daughter of longtime Ewing rival Cliff Barnes – returns and a custody battle will soon be brewing over the twin babies she’s carrying.

Bobby continues to investigate the circumstances behind the kidnapping, 20 years earlier, of wife Anne’s child.

And Sue Ellen’s political fortunes very nearly drive her to drink again.

Dallas / EP201

I really, really want this new “Dallas” to succeed, but they might have a tough row to hoe without Hagman. If the producers focus on snappy lines and meaty stories for Josh Henderson as John Ross, they might create a truly worthy follow-up.

It’ll be hard to top Hagman’s character or his delivery, though. Example: A line in the second half of the premiere when J.R. turns to a Barnes family henchman and asks, “How does it feel to be a poodle?”

J.R., we’re going to miss you.

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