Perhaps it's only appropriate that in the years of Will and Kate that America would resurrect its own Downton Abbey. No less a story of dynastic tension than its PBS counterpart, Dallas differs mainly in that it makes no bones about what it is, while Downton hides behind a veil of respectability afforded it by its time period. Dallas has no time for such nonsense, careening about wildly between stories that sound Shakespearean in their scope but read like police blotter when seen in focus. But as with any soap opera, the gauge isn't how well written or acted it is, but how tawdry. In the case of Dallas, it's pretty darn tawdry.
Picking up several years after the original series ended, this Dallas comes up with a whole new crop of hot young people and a sort-of contemporary new angle with regards to energy. Naturally, baby-faced Christopher (Jesse Metcalfe) and Pamela (Julie Gonzalo) are trying to develop a renewable, green energy source with the help of his adoptive father Bobby (Patrick Duffy) and mother Ann (Brenda Strong), while evil, goatee-sporting John Ross (Josh Henderson) and Elena (Jordana Brewster) want to drill the family homestead for oil with the help of the conspicuously alive J.R. (Larry Hagman). It's all full of ins and outs, deceit and backstabbing, as members of the Ewing clan fight for their competing visions of Texas's future.
Giant it ain't. Though benefiting from a primetime slot and a good budget (for basic cable), Dallas never aspires to be anything other than a voyeuristic look inside an especially large and well-decorated front window. It's like fried chicken served on silk underwear, a well-presented version of the same old reality show nonsense that you're certainly already used to. Perhaps that lavishness gives it an air of legitimacy as wealth pornography, but don't be mistaken into thinking that it's anything else.
There are several featurettes "Southfork Legacy: Making Dallas Season One", "Oil and Water: A Family Tradition", "Back In Production", "Dressing Dallas", "Who Shot J.R.?" and "Ewing Family Love Oak". There are also some deleted scenes and a commentary on the pilot.
"Dallas" is on sale January 8, 2013 and is not rated. Drama. Directed by Jesse Bochco, Marc Roskin, Michael Katleman, Michael M Robin, Randy Zisk, Steve Robin. Written by Cynthia Cidre, Bruce Rasmussen, Taylor Hamra, Robert Rovner, Gail Gilchriest, Aaron Allen, Julia Cohen. Starring Brenda Strong, Jesse Metcalfe, Jordana Brewster, Josh Henderson, Julie Gonzalo, Larry Hagman, Linda Gray, Patrick Duffy.