Dallas Says Goodbye to a Legend in “J.R.’s Masterpiece”

In December, I blogged about how excited I was for the return of TNT’s Dallas.  If the entire first season’s reboot didn’t already leave us excited for more, the season finale sure did!  The twists and turns of this series kept the original’s legacy intact, and I couldn’t wait to see what the writers had in store for us in season two.

But not only that… in November we lost one of the beloved cast members, a man who entertained television audiences for years with his portrayals of I Dream of Jeanie’s Major Tony Nelson and Dallas’ J.R. Ewing.  I watched both programs, but to me, Mr. Hagman will always be J.R.

Larry Hagman didn’t just act out the role of the rich and conniving J.R. Ewing… he is and forever will be J.R. Ewing, just as his big ole Texas-sized belt buckle reads.

Shooting for season two had already commenced before he passed, and immediately the writers all returned to Dallas to get back to work, tasked with properly writing one of the greatest TV icons of all-time out of a series.  They promised to make Mr. Hagman proud, as they should; he deserved nothing but the best.

I read a newspaper article just after the turn of the New Year where the Dallas writers shared their plans without giving too much away.  They mentioned that before his passing, Mr. Hagman had already filmed seven episodes of the new season, but that the series might only use five because he looked worn down in the final two.  Additionally, they hinted at “the how.”

Remember Dallas’ ever-so famous mystery back in 1980: Who shot J.R.?  I read once that something like over eighty million people tuned in worldwide to watch this episode of the original series.  Not only that, but it paved the way for two other franchises’ popular catch-questions too: Wendy’s slogan, Where’s the beef? And Twin Peak’s unique conversation starter, Who killed Laura Palmer?

So, here we are in 2013… and now we’re asking: Who killed J.R.?

Dallas and J.R.. Ewing.  Forever the trendsetters…

Last night, the tearful episode finally arrived.  I’ve been preparing myself for an emotional goodbye since November, especially after watching last week’s episode with John Ross (Josh Henderson) calling out to his father after hearing the gun shots ring out over the other end of the phone line.  And again, later in the week, when I watched the clip of Christopher (Jesse Metcalf) speaking at J.R.’s funeral that the actor had brought with him to the Live with Kelly and Michael morning show while on his Dallas press tour.

I can’t remember the last time I was looking forward to a television series episode with the anticipation I had last night.  Seriously, I love TV, and I can’t remember one single time off the top of my head.  Everyone knows that I am crazy when it comes to all of the television that I watch, but I never watch “live” TV anymore… I set my DVR and fast forward through the commercials. But not last tonight. Not with “J.R.’s Masterpiece.”

What a tribute to J.R. Ewing and Larry Hagman. The performances had me in tears.  Josh Henderson shined.  Linda Grey had me sobbing.  And Patrick Duffy?  He got me too.  As did everyone else, especially when Christopher stood up for his cousin against the belligerent drunk at J.R.’s wake.

And speaking of J.R.’s wake, the writers and creators brought so many familiar faces from the original Dallas back to pay their respects:  Lucy Ewing (Charlene Tilton), Ray Krebbs (Steve Kanaly), Gary Ewing (Ted Shackelford), Mandy Winger (Deborah Shelton), and Cally Harper (Cathy Podewell), as well as a few DFW area icons: Jerry Jones, Mark Cuban, and Mayor Mike Rawlings.

The wake and the funeral were exquisitely handled, but it doesn’t stop there.  It’s also the creative way the writers have laid the groundwork for J.R.’s final masterpiece.  The upcoming storyline has me on the edge of my seat.  We all know J.R. as the cut-throat oil tycoon.  And he was that.  All of that, all of the time.  But he was also a Ewing, and proud to be so.  This is why I love what the future of season two has in store for us.

So, what is J.R.’s masterpiece?  Before he passed, J.R. was working on three things.  And well, I don’t want to give away any spoilers…

As far as the character of J.R. Ewing is concerned, the episode, as promised by the writers, couldn’t have been any better.  It was handled beautifully.  They masterfully pieced together recycled material in these last few weeks’ episodes and did so brilliantly.  Honestly, one would never know Mr. Hagman wasn’t there to film these final scenes.

And as for J.R.’s final masterpiece?  Well, as much as I love the Ewing Family Feud, I am really looking forward to Bobby, Christopher, and John Ross working together—it gives me goosebumps.

Bravo, Dallas writers and cast. Bravo.

And now we enter a new era, a Ewing era without the beloved J.R.  But we do have a new mystery—Who Killed J.R.?

Are you a fan of Dallas?  Did you watch “J.R.’s Masterpiece” last night?  What did you think of J.R.’s final goodbye and his messages to his family?  I’d love to hear from you! 

Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday – The Return of Dallas and That Ewing Family

The days are flying by and before we know it, 2013 will be here and we’ll all be left wondering where the time has gone.  With all of the madness expected to surround us these next few days, Amber West and I have decided to revisit a few of our older Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday reviews instead of tackling anything new.

Today, we’re each selecting one TV show that has us on the edge of our seats waiting for the 2013 premiere.  The series I chose returns in January, and as if the entire first season’s reboot didn’t already leave us excited for more, the season finale sure did!  The twists and turns of this series kept the original’s legacy intact, and I can’t wait to see what the writers have in store for us in season two.

But not only that… recently we lost one of the beloved cast members, a man who entertained television audiences for years with his portrayals of I Dream of Jeanie’s Major Tony Nelson and Dallas’ J.R. Ewing.  I watched both programs, but to me, Mr. Hagman will always be J.R.  Larry Hagman didn’t just act out the role of the rich and conniving J.R. Ewing… he is and forever will be J.R. Ewing.

Shooting for season two had already commenced before he passed, and immediately the writers all returned to Dallas to get back to work.  They now have the difficult task of properly writing one of the greatest TV icons of all-time out of a series.  They promised to make Mr. Hagman proud, and I can’t wait to see what they’ve written for him.  He deserves nothing but the best.

*****

One of the most anticipated programs this year is the continued story of the duel between the members of the Ewing family.  And after only two-hours, the new Dallas does not disappoint!

TNT has successfully revived the popular soap opera that ran from the late ‘70s to the early ‘90s, even mirrored the original opening as best they could.

Back in the day, we watched the great sibling rivalry between J.R. and Bobby Ewing.   Whew!  Those two brothers never saw eye to eye…

They still look good, don’t they?

We had J.R. (Larry Hagman), the cut-throat oil-tycoon who would stop at nothing to earn his next riches, and Bobby (Patrick Duffy), the more family oriented and rule-following of Miss Ellie’s boys.  And because of these tendencies, Miss Ellie bequeaths Southfork to Bobby, leaving J.R. with a sour taste in his mouth.

In the new series, J.R.’s wife, Sue Ellen (Linda Gray), has left him.  The Texas courts awarded her all of J.R.’s money, making her one of the most successful women in Dallas (and she may even run for Governor).   Since Bobby lives at and runs Southfork, J.R. has nothing.  These events cause him to fall into a deep depression and someone, we’re assuming Bobby, puts J.R. up in a nice retirement community.

Speaking of Bobby, he’s now married to Ann (Brenda Strong), and is suffering from a recent diagnosis of intestinal cancer.  He decides to sell Southfork—the only requirement being that whoever buys the ranch must continue with Miss Ellie’s wish to not drill on her property.  And like the “Good Ol’ Boy” he is, Bobby settles the deal with a handshake.

The new generation of Ewings…

But what about these younger Ewing boys we keep hearing so much about?  Fast-forward twenty years, and the Ewing family is still going strong, bickering included, only with two new faces: John Ross, played by Josh Henderson, and Christopher, played by Jesse Metcalf.

Let’s start with John Ross…

While secretly drilling on Southfork, John Ross and his girlfriend/business partner (Elena, played by Jordana Brewster) hit oil.  But when Bobby finds out about it, he forbids anyone from drilling on his mamma’s ranch.  This prompts John Ross to act just like his daddy.  After all, “he’s a chip off the old block.”  Lying, cheating, and backstabbing seem to be John Ross’s methods of choice—but does he have what it takes to outplay J.R.?

And then we have Christopher, sweet and idealistic Christopher…

Christopher runs Ewing Alternative Energies where he researches and experiments with methane drilling.  Unfortunately, his work appears to have caused earthquakes off the coast of China, and while he commits to finding a way to protect the people and preserve the methane, John Ross is the first to point out his cousin’s failures.  Skipping his honeymoon with Rebecca (Julie Gonzalo), Christopher decides to change his daddy’s mind about selling Southfork—but will Bobby listen?

See now, “the fun is just beginning.”

I’ve used a few of the opening episodes’ one-liners above in this post, but I’m not done.  The writers and creators have definitely impressed me with some of the dialogue in these first few hours, especially when it comes to describing J.R. Ewing:

“Some people are just too damn mean to die.”
“It’s better to be old than to be the devil.”

Larry Hagman still has it!  There’s nothing quite as mischievous as J.R.’s smile…

RIP, Mr. Hagman

Before we wrap, let’s not forget to mention the soap opera element.  First, we have the business partnerships between John Ross and Elena, Christopher and Elena, and Sue Ellen and Elena.  Surely one if not more of these are going to blow up in their faces, specifically Elena’s.

Let’s stay on the topic of Elena for a second.  Elena is the daughter of the Ewing’s long-time cook and Christopher’s former girlfriend/fiancée.  But when she received a supposed email from Christopher ending their relationship the night before their wedding, she ran away to Mexico and into the waiting arms of John Ross.

Oh, but it doesn’t stop there.  At John Ross’s suggestion, and knowing full well of Christopher and Elena’s past, Rebecca asks Elena to stand up for her at her and Christopher’s wedding.  That’s only the first sign we see that Rebecca may not be as sweet as she appears…  When we meet Rebecca’s brother, we deduce that they have been planning to scam the Ewing family for a few years now—but why?

And what about the sale of Southfork?  Well, Bobby thinks he’s selling to the Del Sol Corporation on the promise that the ranch won’t be developed.  J.R. knows about this sale, but thinks the Del Sol Corporation is going to turn around and sell him the ranch thirty days after the sale closes, making him the rightful owner of Southfork.  But John Ross has an idea all his own—he brings in a fraud to play the part of Marta Del Sol, and unbeknownst to Bobby and J.R., John Ross plans to take the ranch as his own.

Christopher and John Ross see things just as about as clearly as their daddies… not eye to eye with one another.

Dallas is definitely still a soap opera.  But how does it rank?  It’s still early, but I must award TNT’s Dallas with the MacTV rating.  The first two hours were definitely a guilty pleasure, and I personally can’t wait for more.

Bring on the oil fields, cattle ranches, cowboy boots, cowboy hats, and family feuds.  Dallas, we’ve missed you.

*****

I wrote this review after watching only two hours of the new Dallas, and well, let me just say that a TON has happened since.  The final seconds of the season finale left me with my jaw dropped to the floor—I did not see that twist coming!  The writers and creators have definitely done the Dallas fans proud with this reboot, and I can’t wait for more!

Have you watched TNT’s Dallas reboot?  How would you rate it?  Are you Team Bobby and Christopher or J.R. and John Ross?  I’d love to hear from you!

Remember to click over to Amber’s new & improved blog and see what see recommends…

Come back next week when Amber and I choose another of our favorites to share….  Stay tuned!

Remember to stop by the #watchwed hashtag in Twitter to discuss any of today’s reviews, or to mention any television programs that you’d like to see on Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday in the future.

A Recap of The WatchWed Review System:

GTV (Gourmet TV): Everything we want and more
MacTV (MacNCheese TV): Guilty pleasure. Not perfect, but is satisfies
GMacTV (Gourmet MacNCheese TV): A combination of fine wine and comfort food
JFTV (Junk food TV):It’s not great for us, but we’ll go back for seconds
TBPTV (Twice Baked Potato TV): Part gourmet and delicious, while absolutely horrible for our cholesterol
SSTV (Still Simmering TV): It has potential, but the jury is still out
NIV (NyQuil Induced Viewing): Perfect for that late night television sleep timer
LOTV (Liver&Onions TV): Do we really have to explain? Blech

 

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