Shooting J.R. All Over Again

Planned "Dallas" reboot could turn out to be a good fit for the times. Hold onto your cowboy hats!

A whole season of “Dallas” famously – or infamously, depending upon how you look at it – was explained away as a dream. Bobby Ewing didn’t die after all – his wife Pam woke up and everything was okay – or as okay as things could get on Southfork Ranch.

Now there’s word of a perhaps more stunning revival: after nearly two decades, we could be awakening to a new version of “Dallas” on TNT, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Larry Hagman, Patrick Duff and Linda Gray reportedly have been approached about recreating their roles, though we’re likely to see a new generation of bad-blooded Ewings carry on the bulk of the family feuding.

In some ways, the world has changed vastly since J.R. Ewing flashed his last evil grin in 1991 – the environmental movement, after all, can’t be playing too well with oil barons. In other respects, he’ll be right at home in our current era of greed and deceit: Mr. Ewing, meet Mr. Madoff.

New plot possibilities abound for the Ewings, who have their own way of taking care of business:

Murder? Three decades ago, somebody tried to kill J.R., setting off a national obsession. These days, J.R. likely will be plotting to kill the electric car.

Oil drilling in Alaska? The Ewings will plunge the first derrick in the snow, aided by a charismatic politician determined – with the help of big Texas money – to become the first woman president.

That pesky global warming nonsense? Hmmm, the Ewings no doubt will find a way to silence that inconveniently stubborn, big-mouthed former vice president.

News of the return of “Dallas” comes as “Wall Street 2,” a sequel to another iconic work about corporate greed and machinations in the Reagan years, is on the way.

Oliver Stone’s original “Wall Street,” released in 1987, offered a morality tale about ambition and avarice run amok, embodied in Michael Douglas’ ruthless Gordon (“Greed is good!”) Gekko. Such behavior and a dollop of sex provided spectator sport on “Dallas,” a rollicking prime-time soap opera that gave us 13 years of intrigue carried out by a rotating cast of good looking, rich characters with tight clothes and loose moral codes.

How “Dallas” will play in these tough times remains to be seen: it could offer welcome escapism or serve as another reminder of the mess we’re in.

So will J.R. Ewing or his successor rise again to the top as more proof that bad guys finish first?

Or will we wake up and discover it all was just another bad dream?

Hester is founding director of the award-winning, multi-media NYCity News Service at the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism. He is the former City Editor of the New York Daily News, where he started as a reporter in 1992. Follow him on Twitter.

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