Jun 14, 201202:42 PMThe Telegraph
The Premier Blog of the West
TV Recap: Top 10 Things To Know About The 'Dallas' Premiere
The Ewings are back to their backstabbing ways in Dallas, the TNT cable network’s ambitious reboot of the phenomenally popular prime-time soap opera. We’ll be offering a day-after recap for each episode of the new series, but be forewarned: These summaries will be stuffed with spoilers.
Wednesday’s two-hour premiere presentation on TNT actually consisted of two episodes – “Changing of the Guard” and “Hedging Your Bets” – aired back-to-back. Here are the Top 10 things you need to know before you catch up with Episode 3.
THIS LAND IS MY LAND: Bobby Ewing (once again played by original Dallas vet Patrick Duffy) is alive and well – though, perhaps, not for long – and determined to keep Southfork, his beloved family ranch, unblemished by oil rigs, fulfilling the final wishes of “Miss Ellie,” his late mother. In this, he is enthusiastically supported by Christopher (Jesse Metcalfe), his adopted son, who’s eager to involve the Ewing clan in a “clean” energy business, and Anne (Brenda Strong), his second wife, who proves to be quite a resourceful gal when she wields a shotgun to scare off a burglar. Bobby opts not to tell either Ann or Christopher that he’s been diagnosed with cancer – but Ann stumbles upon his medication in the wake of the burglary, and puts two and two together.
THERE’S OIL IN THAT THERE SPREAD: John Ross (Josh Henderson), the stressed-for-success offspring of J.R. and Sue Ellen Ewing, is obsessed with getting the Ewings back into the oil business. And he’s gone so far as to employ Christopher’s beautiful ex-fiancee, Elena Ramos (Jordana Brewster), in scheme to drill for crude on a long-neglected corner of Southfork. During the opening moments of the reboot’s premiere episode, John Ross and Elena do indeed find “a two-billion-barrel reserve” of black gold beneath the surface of their exploration site. But Bobby isn’t impressed. Indeed, the discovery makes him all the more determined to sell Southfolk to a conservatory, to guarantee the land always will remain in a pristine state. John Ross immediately files suit to contest Miss Ellie’s will, claiming the dear old lady was mentally incompetent when she granted Bobby full control of the ranch.
HE’S BAAAAACK!: Driven to desperate measures, John Ross seeks advice from his estranged father – J.R. Ewing, once again played by the iconic Larry Hagman – to wrest control of the Ewing family legacy. At first, however, their conversation is a trifle one-sided, since J.R. is virtually catatonic due to debilitating depression, and has been confined to a nursing home. But once he hears of Bobby’s plans – and his son’s schemes -- J.R. makes a remarkably sudden recovery: In an instant-classic scene that calls to mind all those revivals of Frankenstein’s Monster throughout Universal horror movies of the 1930s and ‘40s, J.R. opens his eyes, cocks his bushy brows, and drawls encouraging words to his boy.
MATTERS OF THE HEART: Christopher is set to marry Rebecca Sutter (Julie Gonzalo), a bright and charming beauty he met while on the rebound after his break-up with Elena. But there’s some doubt as to just who broke up with whom. Elena – the daughter of the Ewing family’s faithful cook – claims that on the day they were to be married, Christopher sent her an email to announce he was abruptly ending their relationship. (She thinks he decided not to marry her because… well, because she was the cook’s daughter.) But Christopher heatedly (and persuasively) denies sending the email, and claims he sought solace in Rebecca’s arms only after hearing Elena had run away to Mexico.
OOPS!: Christopher is informed that explorers for his Ewing Alternative Energy company may have triggered an earthquake in China while trying to harvest methane. He confides in Elena after he gets the pass news – and she decides not to share the info with John Ross. But her discretion comes to naught: John Ross learns of the disaster through a well-placed informant, and attempts to blackmail Christopher on the day of his cousin’s wedding. (Basically, he tells Christopher to convince Bobby not to sell Southfolk – or suffer the consequences of extremely bad publicity for Ewing Alternative Energy.) Christopher assumes Elena betrayed him, and confronts her just before he and Rebecca are joined in matrimony. Elena denies Christopher’s charge – and brings up the touchy subject of the aforementioned email. Christopher assumes John Ross actually sent the email, and leads Elena to the same conclusion.
THE PLOT THICKENS: Just before Christopher and Rebecca share vows, Bobby is visited by the stunning Marta Del Sol (Leonor Varela), purportedly the representative for her father’s company, an outfit dedicated to land preservation. She and Bobby strike a handshake deal for the sale of Southfork. After the wedding, however, John Ross visits J.R. – and finds his father sharing a drink with the duplicitous Marta. When John Ross registers shock – and annoyance – that J.R. didn’t inform him of the scam to trick Bobby, J.R. brushes aside his son’s complaints: “This is for all the marbles, son. You didn’t think I’d put all my oil in one barrel, did you?” But J.R. may be the one who’s been punk’d: John Ross and Marta have a meeting – on the field of an otherwise deserted Cowboys Stadium – to confirm their plans for a triple cross. “The fun,” John Ross crows, is just beginning.
LOVE AND WAR: John Ross and Elena have a falling out after she accuses him of writing the aforementioned email – which he heatedly denies -- and John Ross angrily counters that she obviously still loves Christopher. It’s worth noting, however, that John Ross hasn’t been entirely faithful to Elena: He rashly smooches with Marta in the parking lot of the nursing home when J.R. resides – a close encounter that J.R. accidentally spots, arousing his suspicion that Marta may not be all that she appears. Later, Marta slips a drug into John Ross’ drink, and videotapes their subsequent bedroom activities. (Very little of the latter is shown, though it’s broadly hinted that bondage was part of the program.) Viewers are left with the impression that Marta may be plotting a quadruple cross.
FAMILY MATTERS: Christopher and Rebecca delay their honeymoon so Christopher can aid Bobby in the upcoming battle for Southfork. He asks Bobby to reconsider plans to sell the ranch to the outfit supposedly represented by Marta. When Bobby insists on sticking to the handshake deal, Christopher is deeply hurt: He thinks his father doesn’t have enough faith his ability to retain control of Southfolk if anything ever happened to Bobby. (Keep in mind: Christopher doesn’t yet know anything about the cancer diagnosis.) Meanwhile, Rebecca has a private conversation with her visiting brother, Tommy Sutter (Callard Harris), who has stuck around Southfork after the wedding. The more the siblings talk, the more it appears they have an old score to settle with the Ewing family – leaving the impression that the recent marriage of Rebecca and Christopher may be part of an elaborate revenge scheme.
PLOTS AND COUNTERPLOTS: Sue Ellen Ewing (Linda Gray) – John Ross’ mom, J.R.’s estranged wife – has acquired considerable influence and many well-placed connections since we last saw her on the original Dallas series. Indeed, she’s now being talked up as a possible gubernatorial candidate. She offers financial aid to Elena, who’s trying to purchase some oil leases, and informed advice to her son. For all her savvy, however, it’s clear when she meets J.R. at a Cattle Barons Ball that she’s not entirely out from under that charming rogue’s spell. At the same ball, J.R. has a brief encounter with Mitch Lobell (Richard Dillard), the long-time Ewing family lawyer who’s helping Bobby with the Southfork sale. What Bobby doesn’t know is, J.R. is paying off Lobell. What J.R. doesn’t know is, John Ross is paying off the crooked attorney, too. The next day – after the aforementioned bedroom hijinks with Marta – John Ross confers with an unnamed co-conspirator, who’s given the task of digging up dirt on Lobell. And by the way, John Ross adds, could the co-conspirator also find out who might have sent that troublesome email?
LAST LAUGH: J.R. takes a trip down to Mexico to visit an old friend, Carlos Del Sol, who just happens to be the father of Marta Del Sol. Trouble is, Carlos doesn’t know anything about any plot to purchase Southfork from Bobby and sell it back to J.R. More important, he does know that his daughter isn’t in Dallas – she’s right there in his house. J.R. flashes his most ingratiating smile as he meets the real Marta (Leanna Pareja), and tells her that she ought to meet his son. “He’s a chip off the old block,” he pointedly notes.