×

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

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.

'Dallas' Spins New 'Who Shot JR?' Toward Dead End

More TV

  • Seann William Scott

    Seann William Scott Boards Fox Mockumentary Pilot 'This Country'

    Seann William Scott has signed on to the half-hour Fox pilot based on the British comedy series “This Country.” The American version follows a documentary crew goes to a small town to study young adults and their current concerns. Their focus is the daily lives of cousins Kelly and Shrub Mallet and their idiosyncratic surroundings. [...]

  • Gabrielle Carteris participates in Fox's "BH90210"

    SAG-AFTRA President Gabrielle Carteris on Weinstein Verdict: 'You Can't Hide Any Longer'

    SAG-AFTRA president Gabrielle Carteris has hailed the verdicts in the Harvey Weinstein case, with the disgraced ex-mogul found guilty of committing a criminal sexual act and third-degree rape. “Justice was served today and Harvey Weinstein was held accountable for his crimes,” Carteris said. “But it is only a beginning. We look forward to the Weinstein [...]

  • Michael Jordan Crying Meme Kobe Bryant

    Michael Jordan Jokes About Crying Meme During Emotional Kobe Bryant Speech

    Michael Jordan, arguably the greatest basketball player of all-time, delivered one of the most raw and powerful speeches at Kobe Bryant’s public memorial on Monday. He also evoked the most laughter. After fondly telling stories about his “little brother” Bryant, a visibly upset Jordan joked about his wildly popular Internet meme. “Now I’ll have to [...]

  • Amazon Making the Cut Heidi Klum

    'Making the Cut' Trailer: Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn Return With New Amazon Series

    Fans who miss Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn’s presence on their television screens can now take a first sneak peek at their upcoming fashion design competition series on Amazon, “Making the Cut,” which debuts on Prime Video on March 27. The former “Project Runway” host and mentor are giving 12 designers and entrepreneurs the chance [...]

  • Bob Odenkirk as Jimmy McGill, Frances

    What to Watch on TV This Week: 'Better Call Saul' and 'Altered Carbon' Return

    Welcome back to Tune In: our weekly newsletter offering a guide to the best of the week’s TV. Each week, Variety’s TV team combs through the week’s schedule, selecting our picks of what to watch and when/how to watch them. This week, “Better Call Saul” is back on AMC, and “Altered Carbon” season 2 drops on [...]

  • Amazon's ‘Daisy Jones and the Six’

    Amazon's ‘Daisy Jones and the Six’ Adds Sebastian Chacon

    Amazon’s musical drama “Daisy Jones & the Six” has added a drummer to provide a beat for its fictional band. Sebastian Chacon, who is set to star in the upcoming Showtime series “Penny Dreadful: City of Angels,” has been cast as a series regular in the Reese Witherspoon-produced show, joining the likes of Riley Keough [...]

  • Oliver Hudson, Malin Akerman Join CBS

    Oliver Hudson, Malin Akerman Join CBS Comedy Pilot 'Three of Us'

    Oliver Hudson and Malin Akerman have been cast in two of the lead roles in the CBS comedy pilot “The Three of Us,” Variety has learned. The multi-camera comedy follows adult siblings who are children of divorce who must circle the wagons when their sister’s husband unexpectedly announces he wants to call it quits on their [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content