×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

‘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

  • Walt Disney Archives Founder Dave Smith

    Walt Disney Archives Founder Dave Smith Dies at 78

    Walt Disney Archives founder Dave Smith, the historian who spent 40 years cataloging and preserving the company’s legacy of entertainment and innovation, died Friday in Burbank, Calif. He was 78. Smith served as Disney’s chief archivist from 1970 to 2010. He was named a Disney Legend in 2007 and served as a consultant to the [...]

  • TV Writer Christopher Knopf, Former WGA

    TV Writer Christopher Knopf, Former WGA West President, Dies at 91

    Prolific Emmy-nominated television writer Christopher Edwin Knopf, former president of the Writers Guild of America West, died in his sleep of congestive heart failure on Feb. 13. He was 91. Knopf was born in New York and attended UCLA, leaving during his senior year to join the Air Force during World War II. He finished [...]

  • Jussie Smollett The Black AIDS Insitute

    Jussie Smollett Case: Two Suspects Released Without Charges as New Evidence Emerges

    After two days of questioning, the Chicago Police Department announced Friday evening that it has released two suspects in the Jussie Smollett case without filing charges. Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said that detectives had developed new information in the case. Police no longer consider the men to be suspects. “Due to new evidence as a [...]

  • GOTHAM: L-R: Guest star Cameron Monaghan

    TV News Roundup: Fox Drops 'Gotham' Final Season Trailer (Watch)

    In today’s TV news roundup, Fox released a new trailer for an upcoming episode of “Gotham” and Disney has announced the cast for its upcoming “High School Musical” series.  FIRST LOOKS Showtime released a new trailer and the official poster for the upcoming fourth season of “Billions,” premiering March 17 at 9 p.m. ET/PT. In [...]

  • Chris Rock

    Chris Rock to Direct Kenan Thompson Comedy Pilot at NBC

    Chris Rock has come onboard to direct the NBC single-cam comedy pilot “Saving Kenan,” Variety has learned. Rock will also executive produce the pilot, which stars “SNL” mainstay Kenan Thompson. Thompson will play a newly widowed dad determined to be everything for his kids while begrudgingly letting his persistent father-in-law become more involved in their lives [...]

  • Peak TV Saturation TV Placeholder

    Apollo Global Management Buys Majority Stake in Cox TV Stations

    Private equity giant Apollo Global Management has cut a deal with Atlanta-based Cox Enterprises to buy a majority stake in Cox’s 13 TV stations as well as three newspapers and a handful of radio stations in Ohio. Apollo has been in the hunt for broadcast TV stations for some time. Cox’s station group, which includes [...]

  • Ken Jeong TV Take Podcast

    Listen: Ken Jeong on His Return to Stand-Up and New Netflix Special

    Welcome to “TV Take,” Variety’s television podcast. In this week’s episode, Variety’s executive editor of TV, Daniel Holloway, talks with Ken Jeong about his Netflix comedy special, “Ken Jeong: You Complete Me, Ho,” and being a judge on Fox’s “The Masked Singer.“ Jeong started working on his new standup act after ABC canceled his show “Dr. [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content