Review: ‘‘Dallas’ Spins New ‘Who Shot JR?’ Toward Dead End’

Dallas

Hagman tribute filled with nice touches, but far from a fitting farewell

In a demonstration of the old maxim “If life gives you lemons….,” the producers of “Dallas” have spun a new “Who Shot J.R.?” mystery out of the unexpected death of Larry Hagman, who played the iconic character. Yet the stunt and tease of a serialized storyline tied to the character’s murder seem to be a case of too little, too late for TNT’s reboot, which started out promisingly and simply didn’t possess the staying power to keep viewers reliably coming back.

Part of that was generational, as showrunner Cynthia Cidre gamely tried to balance the mix of old and new in the cast, with considerable success initially. That mix was very much on display Monday, where a who’s who of former cast members — not to mention Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, among others — assembled for J.R.’s memorial and funeral. (Spoiler alert if you haven’t watched and still care to.)

The real standout moments on Monday belonged to Patrick Duffy and Linda Gray — Hagman’s original co-stars — who clearly felt an additional resonance in playing out these farewell scenes. Duffy’s character, Bobby, will have to become more of a badass, apparently, to seek revenge and simultaneously protect the family’s interests, while Gray’s fell off the wagon the night before the funeral.

It’s hard to blame the producers — faced with such a turn in mid-flight — from trying to make the best of a difficult situation, however awkward it might be. And the hour was filled with nice touches, including a revised version of the main theme in a more muted, melancholy tone.

Still, perhaps the best tribute TNT and everyone else associated with the show could offer would be to play out this current string, provide closure to the J.R. plot, and let “Dallas” ride off into the sunset. Because the truth is even in his dotage Hagman and J.R. were still the best thing about the series, and the prospect of keeping it going with the next-generation Ewings doesn’t seem likely to produce Idaho-sized ratings, much less Texas ones.

In an earlier episode this season J.R. joked that he never does the right thing, which is of course what made the character such devilish fun. But those holding the reins on “Dallas” can. Cidre told TV Guide the current story arc will “come full circle to the original ‘Who shot J.R.?'” And as anybody knows, when drawing a circle, once you’ve reached the point where you started, there’s really nothing to be gained by going on.

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  1. Linda says:

    I totally disagree with the author of this article. When I first heard they were re-making Dallas, I was very skeptical…how could they make anything that would even come close in comparison to the original? Well, I was wrong. Much to my surprise, the writers of the new Dallas are showing fans a real good time, and it’s getting better with every episode. The John Ross character is quickly becoming one of my favorites, just as the old JR was in the 80’s.

    I hope the writers and producers keep the good times rolling!!!

  2. Pamela says:

    I thought it was superb; Patrick Duffy and Linda Gray had real emotions; and it left us with many twists. WELL DONE

  3. Rabs says:

    Nooooo, is this now the end of JR, no return? I’m going to bed, don’t want to read anymore. I certainly won’t sleep well now…
    Rest in peace Larry and thank you for the joy you’ve given us in Dallas. x

  4. Pete says:

    #SaveDallas! It’s good fun TV, it doesn’t take itself TOO seriously but at the same time it treats its viewers with respect (and the occasional wink).

  5. Dallasfan says:

    This review was rude! This is the best show on TV! Of course Larry Hagman was/is DALLAS but it will survive as a tribute to his memory! That is how passionate US DALLAS fans are!
    Kudos to Cynthia Cidre & Michael Robin they have done a brilliant job w reviving this iconic show!

  6. David says:

    This reboot of “Dallas” not only intrigues me every week, it’s inspired me to rewatch the original series from the ’80’s! I think they’re doing an amazing job of honoring the past while looking to the future. Hangman was the best of the bunch, but who says we can’t have a new villain?

  7. Mike says:

    Whoah there! J’accuse! You got one thing right- that Hagman was always the best part of Dallas, but you are so wrong that there is nowhere to go after the resolution of Who Shot JR 2! I love the new cast.

  8. Adrian says:

    A show with great writing can overcome losing a star. ER was still a good show after Clooney. This review proves there is a difference between criticism and opinion.

  9. Dan says:

    I disagree with Brian as well. It’s obvious that they have had to write around Hagman’s passing and have done a great job redeveloping stories that were already in production. I think we are lucky to have a show like this that is striving to be an alternative to what’s currently on television. The blending of the old and new will still take time to develop and is enough for me to tune in every Monday. I can’t remember the last time I scheduled my time specifically to watch a TV show weekly! I’m in complete agreement with Connie and Ron!

  10. Connie says:

    I disagree! I like the new show and think they are doing an excellent job of tying old and new together. Last nights episode was well done in my opinion (not that that matters because I’m just a fan and not a critic) and I loved seeing old characters return. I’m even thinking about purchasing all of the old episodes so I can refresh my memories.

  11. Ron says:

    I don’t agree. The new Dallas is a fun and dramatic serial to watch. It would be a lasting legacy for JR/Hagman if the show continues. I love the twists and turns and enjoy many of the new characters but Linda Gray’s Sue Ellen will still be my new favorite. She can carry this show after JR’s passing.

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