“Dallas” (circa 1980) was one of the first prime-time shows that left an impression on me. While I loved to watch Krystle and Alexis fight on “Dynasty,” and I swooned over a young Lorenzo Lamas on “Falcon Crest,” “Dallas” was the show that kept me glued to the TV.

“Dallas” (circa 1980) was one of the first prime-time shows that left an impression on me. While I loved to watch Krystle and Alexis fight on “Dynasty,” and I swooned over a young Lorenzo Lamas on “Falcon Crest,” “Dallas” was the show that kept me glued to the TV.


This single-minded devotion may have had something to do with the very grown-up feeling I got from simply being allowed to watch it with my parents, but it also had a lot to do with a deliciously wicked character named J.R. Ewing. While I'm sure I had strong opinions about troublemaker Lucy, found Miss Ellie suitably grandmotherly and got caught up in “Who shot J.R.?” fever, the details of episodes and story arcs are long forgotten. What remains however, is a deep fondness for one dastardly oil baron, cowboy hats and a ranch in Texas called Southfork.


I'm not sure anyone could bring J.R. Ewing to life the way Larry Hagman does. On the original “Dallas,” he played the corrupt Texas oil man as such a charming snake that you could almost look past his evil plans to destroy his brother Bobby (Patrick Duffy) and anyone else who crossed him. But then you couldn't, and that's what was so great. For me, he was the original “love to hate” him, guilty pleasure villain. So it was a relief to find out that Hagman would reprise his role on TNT's 2012 continuation of “Dallas.” There are less cowboy hats, Miss Ellie has gone to that great ranch in the sky and no one has shot J.R. (yet) but he's still scheming and planning with a twinkle in his eye.


In this “Dallas,” the action focuses on J.R.'s son John Ross (Josh Henderson) and Bobby's adopted son Christopher (Jesse Metcalfe) who, much like their fathers before them, are at odds over the family business. As the series begins, John Ross, with the help of the cook's daughter Elena (Jordana Brewster), has discovered oil on Southfork. Christopher wants Ewing Oil to go green and has spent years on a plan to mine the ocean for an environmentally friendly alternative to oil. Both sons appeal to their fathers for support, and it's not long before their conflict spills across the generational divide to include J.R. and Bobby, who revive their feud complete with backstabbing twists and turns.


The addition of the younger generation of Ewings who are fighting in their fathers' footsteps is a logical way to refresh the show while making room for the original characters. It's a “something for everyone” approach that makes a good effort at luring new fans while calling back the old ones. If you don't know anything about J.R., Bobby and Sue Ellen, “Dallas” 2012 still has all the elements of a good prime time soap opera — love triangles, betrayals, power, wealth, beautiful people — and J.R.'s schemes are still fun to watch. But if you have nostalgia for the show and its characters like I do, you may like it even more.


“Dallas” is on Wednesdays at 9 p.m. EDT on TNT.


Melissa Crawley credits her love of all things small screen to her parents, who never used the line, "Or no TV!" as a punishment. Her book, “Mr. Sorkin Goes to Washington: Shaping the President on Television's 'The West Wing,’” was published in 2006. She has a PhD in media studies and is a member of the Television Critics Association. To comment on Stay Tuned, email her at staytuned2011@hotmail.com or follow her on Twitter at @MelissaCrawley.