Zack & Nick's Culture Cast

Digesting the lowest rung of pop culture so you don't have to!

‘Dallas’ is Good, Trashy Fun

With the 2012-2013 TV season starting to wrap up, I plan to reflect on some of the shows I watch.  First up: Dallas.

dallas

No, I am not a middle-aged housewife.  At least not at last report.  Dallas was a classic show from the 1970s/1980s.  I remember my parents watching it when I was younger.  The theme song and characters are iconic.  When the revival series started up (including original cast members Patrick Duffy, Linda Grey, and Larry Hagman) last summer, I felt obligated to check it out.  What I did not expect was to be sucked in.

Oh, the show is ridiculous with who is trying to screw over who.  Allegiances ping-pong between different characters.  If you miss one episode, you will likely become amazingly lost.  The original show did this too, and I do not know how viewers kept up back in the day before DVD box sets, let alone VCRs being common.

Thing is, Dallas knows exactly what it is doing and revels in it.  If it was not the crazy drama-and-sex infused show, I think people would be completely turned off by it.  Dallas has a well-earned and fondly remembered reputation.  It needs to be what it is in order to be successful.  And it works.

Here is the odd thing about the show.  The premise is that it features the “next generation” of Ewings while the returning cast members are in the background.  Besides Josh Henderson as John Ross, none of the younger cast can hold a candle to Duffy, Grey, or the late Hagman (in fairness, who could hold a candle to the latter?).  I suppose a lot of it has to do with the older cast knowing their characters so well (they played them for nearly a decade and a half) that jumping into their roles is not an issue while the younger cast is still feeling what their character is about.

By the end of this second season, many of the wrinkles of the revival have been ironed out.  I like the most of the characters.  The aforementioned John Ross is turning into a surprisingly well-rounded, three dimensional character.  His character, being the son of iconic JR Ewing, could have easily been botched.  Henderson brings a certain amount of nuance to the role where we want to see him succeed and see that he can do the right thing to be a good guy.  But at the same time, we cheer him on when he does something backhanded.  Henderson will never be Hagman (again, who could), but he can easily fill that role in the show with a new twist in the character.

The other lead as played by Jesse Metcalfe is incredibly sub-par.  As Christopher Ewing, Metcalfe mostly whines his way through the show.  I swear, I do not think there is an episode where he does not complain or cry about something (usually related to methane).   How come no one ever slaps him and tells him to stop acting like a baby.  And, really, the writing is not to blame here.  Metcalfe is really the wet blanket on the show.

Fun fact: Henderson and Metcalfe are both listed as the leads.  As such, they alternate top billing from week to week.  I do not know any other show that has done this.  Ever.

Dallas also features Julie Gonzalo who is an actress I have enjoyed since seeing her on Veronica Mars.  Here character of Pamela was a bit inconsistent this season as I think the writers did not know what exactly to do with her.  However, once the dust settled with her surprise revelation of being Cliff’s daughter, they gave her a solid direction, and she became one of my favorites during the season.

Rounding out the cast is Jordana Brewster, Emma Bell, and Kuno Becker.  Their characters were fairly useless this season.  Brewster was not given much to do other than being a sounding board for everyone else (if she even appeared in an episode).  I can only imagine that she was busy filming Fast and Furious 6 causing a reduced screen time.  It seems like she will have more do to next year given the way the season ended.

Bell and Becker are new to the cast this season, and boy, were they worthless.  Both are decent enough actors (and Bell is pretty easy on the eyes), but their characters were nothing more than plot devices.  Though I do not know for sure, it looks like Becker is being written out of the show (which I am honestly okay with), but Bell is still firmly around.  I hope they give her something better to do next season.

As for this season’s storyline…a lot of stuff happened.  I am still blown away at how much was crammed into 15 episodes.  The latter half of the season was especially strong dealing with JR’s murder with the Ewings uniting together to take down their enemies.  They work so incredibly well as a team that it is just going to be so wonderfully frustrating when they start to backstab each other again next season.

Speaking of Larry Hagman’s death, the show handled it very well without being exploitative about it.  JR’s murder was brilliantly done as both a mystery and a final, ultimate twist.  The show honored both the actor and the character wonderfully.   I refuse to spoil it because A) it would take too long and B) it is better as a viewing experience.

I am on board for season three.  I like these characters, and the trashy storytelling is so much fun.   There is so much more I can talk about this show, but I will curb it for now.  This season seemed to end with wrapping up a lot of the loose ends from the last two years.  Where Dallas will go next is anyone’s guess.  But, whatever happens, I will there.

~N

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