Tag Archives: Dallas

What I’m watching: Playing catch-up

The Man Under the Hood

It always feels like a new TV season when “Mad Men” starts up again on AMC. It’s not of course; we’re in the awkward part of the calendar when some shows have completed their seasons, others have a few episodes left and some – “Sleepy Hollow,” in particular – are long gone.

Here’s some thoughts on what I’m watching or watched until just recently.

“The Walking Dead.” This season, after staging a battle at the prison that saw Hershel and the Governor die, seemed to build to a climax in the middle of its year. The last half of the season was made up of really-pretty-good character pieces. The finale, with Rick and the gang playing into the hands of the Terminus cannibals, was shocking in that it was not bombastic. Curiously, it made me look forward to next October more than almost anything else.

“Agents of SHIELD.” This small-screen Marvel flagship series struggled early in the season. I wonder if the “slow build” story the showrunners are maintaining now is really the case – if so, they didn’t do it very effectively – or if, like many other series, it just took them a while to hit a stride. With recent episodes, including tie-ins to “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” “SHIELD” is finally clicking. I hope it doesn’t falter again in the final episodes of the season.

“Dallas.” I miss J.R. I miss Larry Hagman. But the series is good, soapy fun.

“Arrow.” It’s possible I’m not enjoying any series on TV more than this take on the classic DC hero. The cast is really good, the stories are fun and the show is stuffed with comics characters. What’s not to like?

“Justified.” One of my favorite series, “Justified” had an uneven series at best. Lawman Raylan and outlaw Boyd and their supporting players were good, but the messy Crowe family story just didn’t do it for me. Next year is the final season and the last scene of this past season forecast the story: Raylan vs. Boyd. Can’t wait.

“The Mindy Project.” This Mindy Kaling comedy is funnier than I ever expected. I wish it would run for 10 years.

“Community” and “Parks and Recreation.” With only one episode left this season – and its future uncertain – “Community” has bounced back this year with the return of controversial creator Dan Harmon. It’s so odd and inside baseball that it’ll never grow in viewership. I just hope it hangs on. And “Park” has grown from a series full of oddballs to a series with characters I really care about.

I’ve probably forgotten something. With “Mad Men” back tonight and “Orphan Black” returning April 19, we’ve got more weeks of good viewing ahead.

sleepy hollow cast

But you know what? I think I miss “Sleepy Hollow” more than anything.

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‘Dallas’ – Five things we want to see

dallas season 3

The third-season premiere of TNT’s continuation of “Dallas” aired last night and I was missing Larry Hagman.

Although Hagman’s illness reduced his presence on the first two seasons of the new take on the classic nighttime soap, I have to say I wish that, before his death, producer Cynthia Cidre had shot several hours of Hagman talking on the phone, riding in the back of a limo and just walking across the room that she could generously salt through upcoming seasons.

But I guess that wouldn’t be right.

Anyway, in this, its first season without the venerable J.R. Ewing, “Dallas” will have to make its way on its own soapy power. I think it can do this … if it gives us a few things we want to see.

Plenty of the young’uns. I’m really growing to like the new generation of Ewings. Josh Henderson (John Ross) and Jesse Metcalfe (Christopher) are getting to be pretty good antagonists and I’ve already fallen for Julie Gonzalo as Pamela and Jordana Brewster as Elena.

But plenty of the original Ewings too. Patrick Duffy is stalwart as Bobby and Linda Gray is plainly filling the Hagman role in some scenes with their son John Ross this season. I’m enjoying both. And even though I’m wincing at the thought they’re going to have Sue Ellen fall off the wagon and begin drinking again, it would give Gray, a wonderful soap opera actress, a juicy season.

Faces from the original “Dallas.” We’re seeing plenty of Ken Kercheval (who is 78!) as Cliff Barnes, but I want to see more of Gary Ewing and Lucy Ewing and Val Ewing and Ray Krebbs. I’d really enjoy seeing Ted Shackelford in several episodes, clashing with nephew John Ross over the fate of Southfork.

More of Judith Light. Last season, the “Who’s the Boss” star made a big impression as the mother of Mitch Pileggi’s character … despite the fact that Light is, at 65, just four years older than her on-screen son. I didn’t like Light much when she first appeared, but she’s just the right kind of looney character the show could use.

The drama. The drama. Not just drama from the Ewing Global boardroom, but from Southfork, where it looks like most of the characters will be in residence this season. We need more dinner scenes with all the Ewings staring daggers at each other from their spots around the bar.

Here’s to another good season.

We’re looking forward to ‘Dallas’ returning

dallas season 3 cast

I’m enjoying TV series old and new this summer and fall, but I have to admit I’m looking forward to the return, over the winter, of some favorites like “The Walking Dead,” “Justified” and “Dallas.”

A reader asked when “Dallas” is returning for its third season. I did some online checking and found … well, nothing very specific. TNT says the third season – the first without Larry Hagman as J.R. Ewing – will return in early 2014.

dallas season 3

Here’s the TNT press release, from April:

TNT has renewed the hit drama series Dallas for a third season. Produced by Warner Horizon Television, Dallas centers on the Ewing clan, an enormously wealthy Texas family whose sibling rivalries, romantic betrayals, corruption and even murder are truly legendary. TNT has ordered 15 episodes for the third season, which is slated to launch in early 2014.

“Dallas has built a passionately loyal following with its expertly woven storylines, clever twists and turns, and numerous outstanding performances by a cast that spans generations,” said Michael Wright, president, head of programming for TNT, TBS and Turner Classic Movies (TCM). “Although we said goodbye to Larry Hagman and his iconic character J.R. Ewing this year, Dallas has many more stories left to tell, and the Ewing clan will continue to honor J.R.’s memory by keeping its audience surprised and delighted.”

TNT’s Dallas stars Patrick Duffy as Bobby Ewing, who is now the senior member of the Ewing family following the death of his older brother, J.R. Ewing. Linda Gray stars as Sue Ellen Ewing, J.R.’s former wife and the mother of his son, John Ross, played by Josh Henderson. Jesse Metcalfe is Christopher, Bobby’s adopted son, and Jordana Brewster is Elena Ramos, who grew up in the Ewing household and is now fighting for her own family’s legacy. Julie Gonzalo is Pamela Rebecca Barnes, Christopher’s ex-wife and the daughter of Cliff Barnes (Ken Kercheval), a longtime rival of the Ewings. Brenda Strong stars as Bobby’s wife, Ann, while Mitch Pileggi stars as Harris Ryland, Ann’s scheming ex-husband. The ensemble cast also includes Emma Bell as Emma Brown, a sheltered beauty whose father has taught her to distrust the world around her, and Kuno Becker as Drew Ramos, Elena’s troubled brother who has recently returned to Southfork.

Dallas launched on TNT last summer and ranked as basic cable’s #1 new drama of 2012 with key adult demos. In its second season, Dallas has averaged 3.8 million viewers in Live + 7 delivery, with 1.6 million adults 25-54 and 1.4 million adults 18-49.

Created by David Jacobs and developed by Cynthia Cidre, Dallas is executive-produced by Cidre, Michael M. Robin and Robert Rovner. The series is shot on location in the title city.

When I know a specific date, I’ll let you know.

RIP actor Steve Forrest

steve forrest dallas

Longtime TV  fans remember actor Steve Forrest as Hondo in the 1975 series “SWAT.” But I fondly remember Forrest from a later role in “Dallas.”

The 1986 season of “Dallas” was one of the oddest during the show’s original run on CBS. In the previous season, Bobby Ewing (Patrick Duffy) was written out of the show … only to return in a season-ending cliffhanger. Bobby’s disappearance was explained as “only a dream” of Pamela.

In the season that followed, Forrest joined the cast as Southfork Ranch foreman Wes Parmalee, a grizzled good ole boy who took a liking to Miss Ellie.

In time, Ellie came to believe that Wes was actually her husband, Jock, a character written out of the show when actor Jim Davis died.

Eventually, the Ewing boys proved that Parmalee was not Jock and Parmalee confessed and wandered into the sunset.

It was a fun storyline, however, and Forrest was good in it.

Forrest died in the Los Angeles area at age 87.

Counting down to one: What I’m watching right now

the walking dead welcome to the tombs

It’s that time of year. Some of my favorite shows are working toward their season finales, with just an episode or two left. I’m glued to the TV (well, not literally).

Here’s the best of the best:

“The Walking Dead.” This season, the third, has been a big improvement over last year, which spent way too much time at Herschel’s farm. Much of the current season – which ends with the season finale Sunday night – has been split between the prison, where Rick and the other survivors have stopped, and the town of Woodbury, where the so-called Governor rules.

Pivotal events this season – the death of Lori, the birth of “Little Ass-Kicker,” the full acceptance into the group of Daryl Dixon, the return of Merle Dixon (the incomparable Michael Rooker) – seemed to come in the first half of the season.

In the second half of the season, its as if the showrunners decided to avoid the problems of season two by not repeating, over and over, scenes of the cast standing around and ruminating.

Instead, episodes have focused on small groups of characters. Like “Clear,” in which Rick, Carl and Michonne go back to Rick’s old sheriff’s station in search of weapons only to find that Morgan (Lennie James), Rick’s friend from the first season, has holed up in the town.

Morgan has lost his mind after losing his wife and son, and his madness and complete failure to cope with the post-apocalyptic world sent a message to Rick (Andrew Lincoln), who was spending too much time in Crazytown himself.

the walking dead season finale

Other episodes focused on Daryl and Merle – ending tragically for the newly reunited brothers – and on Andrea and the Governor, both of whom came off as badasses.

I’ll be watching the season finale, “Welcome to the Tombs,” this Sunday.

Meanwhile, “Justified,” the FX show about Deputy U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant), continues to be one of the most clever and sarcastic shows on TV. The over-arching storyline of the season, ostensibly, was the 30-year-old mystery of thief Drew Thompson, but the story is less important than the parade of great characters we’ve been able to enjoy, ranging from the regulars – who have more to do this season – to great new faces like Constable Bob (Patton Oswalt).

“Justified” has always had some uneven moments, but this season has had some of the best episodes of the series to date. The season finale airs Tuesday night.

dallas

There’s another sort of pleasure to be had from “Dallas,” the continuation of the classic American soap opera about the Ewing clan of Texas.

The death of beloved actor Larry Hagman in November left the show in a tough spot mid-way through the second season: How to continue without J.R., a character who symbolized the show even as the real-life illness of Hagman reduced his presence in the new series.

The producers have handled Hagman’s passing well. On the show, J.R. died, the victim of a shooting, in Mexico. But the scripts have taken the mystery of J.R.’s death in a new direction, with Bobby (Patrick Duffy) and the younger generation of Ewings trying to figure out why J.R. was trying to find Pamela (Victoria Principal in the original series, who is apparently not returning).

J.R.’s presence still figures into the show and his death allowed for the return, even briefly, of classic “Dallas” characters like Gary Ewing, Val Ewing and Afton Cooper.

The show has five episodes remaining this season, so we can look forward to more Ewing scheming in the weeks to come.

‘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.

Looking ahead to ‘Dallas’ returning … and J.R.

Dallas / EP201

Like most dedicated “Dallas” fans, I was saddened to hear about the passing, in late November, of Larry Hagman. I really enjoyed the first season of the revival of the show on TNT and I’m looking forward to the Jan. 28 return of the show.

But will “Dallas” survive and maintain its good ratings without Hagman as J.R. Ewing, the man we love to hate?

Production on about a half-dozen of the second season’s 15 episodes was completed before Hagman passed away. TNT and producer Cynthia Cidre have announced Hagman’s death – and the passing of J.R. – will be marked in the eighth episode, set to air March 11. They’re reportedly bringing back other Ewing family members, including brother Gary, played by Ted Shackleford, and his wife Val, played by Joan Van Ark.

I’ve seen the first two episodes of the second season and I can tell you they’re on a level, quality-wise, with the first season.

And Hagman has a wonderful presence in each.

I’ll post fuller previews of each episode before they air. And I’ll be hoping that the show can carry on without its beloved bad guy.