by David on May 6, 2013
With TNT’s renewal of “Dallas” for a third season in 2014, it’s time once again for my Top 10 Wish List for the new season. I’m elated that the series has been renewed. “Dallas” continues to be the best reboot of an iconic original television series to date. It remains thoroughly contemporary while generally respectful to the spirit of the original. Given Larry Hagman’s death, and the long 9-month hiatus before it returns, the wish list is a little more complicated this year.
by David on April 16, 2013
(Note: This review contains explicit spoilers for ep. 2.15 “Legacies.” You can read the review part one of the season two finale, ep. 2.14 “Guilt by Association” here.)
In the week leading up to the season finale, Cynthia Cidre and cast members teased that the “Who Killed JR?” and “Where is Pam?” mysteries would be tied up neatly with a bow for viewers in the final episode. “Legacies” delivers on that promise. Mysteries are solved, the Ewing family gets its revenge, villains get their due (and more), and hints for new plots are teased. You get the feeling writers are closing the book on a large section of “Dallas” history, after having rewritten a few chapters along the way. New viewers are likely to find the finale satisfying, while longtime viewers may find parts of it alternately redundant and revisionist. Both camps though will likely agree that J.R.’s death is explained in the only way possible.
by David on April 16, 2013
(Warning: This review contains explicit spoilers for ep. 2.14 “Guilt by Association” )
“Dallas” wrapped up season two in a two-hour finale that laid to rest the Who Killed JR mystery, and some of the series’ most colorful past. “Dallas” has always had the challenge of functioning on two levels: as a compelling contemporary nighttime soap for new viewers, and as an accurate continuation of its original hit namesake series for longtime viewers. Because the season finale, and the entire second half of season two, relies so heavily on “Dallas” history, one’s reaction to the season finale may depend somewhat on into which camp of viewer one falls.
by David on April 14, 2013
(Warning: This review contains explicit spoilers for ep. 2.13 “Love and Family” )
“Dallas” hurls headlong towards highly anticipated dual season-ending reveals in “Love and Family.” The acceleration felt in episode 12 picks up even more momentum in episode 13. Interestingly, the master plans of both J.R. and the Barnes-Ryland-McConaughey trio suddenly seem to hinge on the actions of several central female characters. The intersections of the internal Ramos and Ryland family dramas with the headliner “Cliff vs. J.R.” plotline start to become clear. Emma and Elena threaten to throw a wrench in the Ewings’ plan to fight off Cliff Barnes, while in the background the re-written legacy of a deceased Katherine Wentworth, and the appearance of a likely re-cast Pam Ewing each potentially offer the Ewings new weapons in their fight.
by David on April 14, 2013
(Warning: This review contains explicit spoilers for ep. 2.12 “A Call to Arms” )
After a couple of strong character-focused episodes, “Dallas” turns its attention back towards adrenaline-fueled plots as the series speeds towards the highly anticipated season two finale, and the answer to the question “Who Killed J.R.?” Episode 12 “A Call to Arms” unevenly juggles the introduction of a delicious new evil trio, one diva’s spiral into drug abuse, and the Ewings’ advancement of J.R.’s master plan to destroy Cliff Barnes. There are a few strong intimate scenes and some standout performances particularly from newer characters, but some of the larger plot points feel like flat retreads from the original series.
by David on April 10, 2013
In the final weeks of season two, the history of the Barnes Wentworth empire has become central to both the “Who Killed J.R.?” and “Where is Pam?” mysteries. J.R.’s Masterpiece led directly to the late Rebecca Wentworth’s will. It’s been said that Rebecca left the company she founded, “Barnes Global,” in equal parts to Cliff, Pam, and Katherine. Longtime viewers instantly saw potential continuity issues in the new description of Rebecca’s will versus the version outlined in the original series, and in some of the Barnes/Wentworth business lineage since then. But are those issues new, or have there been continuity problems all along?
Given the new focus on the Barnes Wentworth empire, I started a timeline of the families’ companies from the original and new series. It can be a tedious affair, and there are gaps still to be filled. I invite you fellow hardcore fans to help us flesh out the path from Wentworth Tool & Die to Barnes Global. Known questions & gaps are highlighted in read, but there are probably even more than that. If you have missing pieces to the puzzle, or specific knowledge of the company history, add it to the Comments section. I’ll update the timeline with your contribution, and credit you as the source. Let’s figure this thing out together!
by David on April 7, 2013
To celebrate the Final Four episodes of season two, and the last day of voting in Dallas Divas Derby 2′s Final Four brackets matches, I compiled a little slideshow of fun facts to mark where we stand after the first eleven episodes. Lots has happened very quickly this year, and it all has to be wrapped up in only four episodes. So take a few minutes to refresh your memory on some of the highlights (& lowlights) thus far, before diving into the back-to-back new episodes airing tonight on TNT, starting at 8pm.
During tonight’s episodes we’ll reveal the final two divas who will be going head-to-head this week in the championship derby match. Follow us on Twitter for updates during the show.
by David on April 3, 2013
(Warning: This review contains explicit spoilers for ep. 2.11 “Let Me In” )
After episodes featuring a deadly explosion, a sabotaged stock car race, a fatal hostage crisis, and at least three murder/suicides, “Dallas’s” latest installment may initially feel anti-climactic. If you look closer however, “Let Me In” stands out as one of the better episodes of season two. After a couple weeks of uneven attempts at balancing the series’ pre-planned trajectory with J.R.’s last minute murder mystery, the disparate plot pieces finally feel like they’re starting to come together.
by David on March 30, 2013
(Warning: This review contains explicit spoilers for ep. 2.10 “Guilt and Innocence” )
“Guilt and Innocence” borrows a page from several classic “Dallas” episodes, convening the ensemble cast at the hospital in the wake of tragedy. “Dallas” historically delivered some of its best character-driven writing when the family came together after such tragedies as J.R.’s and Bobby’s shootings, and Rebecca Wentworth’s plane crash. The new “Dallas” mines similar strength with “Guilt and Innocence,” slowing down to take time for some intimate scenes between new and original characters from the four leading families. Along the way, several Dallas Divas have some special moments; among them, Afton Cooper’s satisfying return as Pamela’s mom, and Judith Ryland’s gothic series exit. Keeping largely within hospital confines, the episode stays intensely focused on the inter-relationships between the four clans. While everyone waits on Pamela’s fate, we quickly learn that the Ewing, Ryland, Barnes and Ramos families all share in both the “Guilt and Innocence” that claim two of their own.
by David on March 20, 2013
(Warning: This review contains explicit spoilers for ep. 2.09 “Ewings Unite!” )
On the surface, “Ewings Unite!” delivers some satisfying moments of Ewing family solidarity, but ultimately the episode cracks under the weight of competing priorities in the wake of J.R.’s death. It’s no small task the series writers had, trying to add the J.R. murder mystery into the already crowded season two “bible” while in the middle of filming. Sadly though, that burden takes a toll on the first post-J.R. episode of the series. Plot coherence, character development, and historical continuity all take a back seat to the build-up to yet another action-film style set piece, jammed into the already plot-heavy episode. The troubles are understandable given the timing of Larry Hagman’s death, but they’re disappointing nonetheless. If “Ewings Unite!” is an indicator of “Dallas’s” new direction, it seems an over reliance on convoluted weekly cliffhangers could take a toll on the series’ compelling characters and history.
by David on March 14, 2013
(Warning: This review contains explicit spoilers for ep. 2.08 “J.R.’s Masterpiece.” )
“Dallas” laid J.R. Ewing to rest in an episode worthy of its title. “J.R.’s Masterpiece” is a poignant farewell to one of television’s grandest villains, and the finest episode of the new series. Showcasing knockout performances, pitch-perfect writing, and sharp direction, it masterfully keeps viewers dancing between moments of genuine grief, titillating intrigue, and classic “Dallas” nostalgia. It opens like the beginning of a riveting murder mystery, but before it’s over there are tears, laughs, memories, and sparks of a thrilling new chapter in the series’ history. “J.R.’s Masterpiece” is equal parts requiem, grand whodunit, and the dazzling series premiere of “Dallas 3.0.”
by David on March 10, 2013
Despite our best efforts, lifelong fandom, and lots of begging, Dallas Divas Derby did not score access to the super private “red carpet” media tent at the PaleyFest “Dallas” event today. That was the bad news. The good news was, we didn’t let that stop us from jumping a flight with our purchased tickets in hand, and heading down to L.A. to see what we could see from outside the velvet ropes at the ultimate “Dallas” fan gathering, and report it all back to you. It was well worth the trip. Paleyfest attendees were treated to a preview screening of “J.R.’s Masterpiece,” followed by an entertaining panel discussion with Executive Producer Michael Robin, Writer /Executive Producer Cynthia Cidre and the cast, moderated by TV Guide Magazine Writer (and lifelong “Dallas” fan) William Keck.
by David on February 28, 2013
(Warning: This review contains explicit spoilers for ep. 2.06 “Blame Game.” )
“Dallas” pulled a bit of a bait-and-switch this week. After hyping an action-packed Southfork showdown between Vicente Cano and the Ewing clan, it turned out that the most significant drama in “Blame Game” came from Ann and Sue Ellen. In an episode some have called “retro,” the series referenced many familiar notes from its past, without directly acknowledging their existence. The episode’s compact, cinematic hostage crisis finale served as a secondary device to advance, and in some cases clarify, several central characters’ motivations and plotlines. Though the immediate outcome of the Southfork standoff was no surprise, the real potential for drama lies in the new and provocative paths down which some of the Ewings now seem headed.
by David on February 25, 2013
Last Sunday, the shocking “Downton Abbey” season finale drew a record 8.2 million viewers to PBS, proving there’s a robust audience for the series television writer Eric Gold has called “…a soap opera as lavish as the mansion in which its characters live.” Indeed, “Downton’s” ratings surge suggests American viewers are hungry for well-written and produced primetime family melodrama. This led me to think about another current soap opera set on a famous real life estate. The night after “Downton” wrapped it’s season finale, TNT’s “Dallas” got a slight uptick in the ratings for the fifth episode of its second season. Coincidence? If American “Downton” fans are seeking a new fix for their sudsy primetime habit, here are the top 5 reasons why they should look to TNT’s “Dallas” on Monday nights at 9 p.m.
by David on February 20, 2013
What a difference a week (or a month) makes. After an explosive prologue in which Ann confronts Harris and Judith at the hospital, and then storms into the police station to confess to shooting Harris, “Trial and Error” leaps into the thick of Ann’s trial for attempted murder. With Frank Ashkani, Becky Sutter, and Tommy Sutter’s murder trial all conveniently out of the way, the bulk of this week’s episode is left to Ann’s trial, and the story of Emma’s childhood kidnapping by Harris and Judith. While too many other convoluted subplots swirl in the background, this episode belongs to Ann (Brenda Strong) and J.R. (Larry Hagman), in some of his final scenes before his death. There’s no time to waste. You can feel the urgency, both real and contrived.
by David on February 14, 2013
(Warning: This review contains explicit spoilers for ep. 2.04 “False Confessions.” )
“False Confessions” is the dazzling conclusion to last week’s bumpy “Sins of the Father.” The two episodes are so closely knit, the aptly titled “Confessions” could’ve been labeled a “Part 2” to “Sins.” The episode nimbly brings a tidy Ewing-style close to at least two potentially nasty court cases, and one of the more lackluster b-stories from season one. Along the way, John Ross wakes sleeping giant Cliff Barnes, Pamela is softened, Judith is activated, and Drew inadvertently becomes a problem for J.R. and John Ross. Read the rest of this entry »
by David on February 10, 2013
(Warning: This review contains explicit spoilers for episode 2.03 “Sins of the Father.” Do not read if you haven’t viewed the episode, and wish to avoid spoilers.)
Things get very complicated very quickly in the third episode of “Dallas’s” second season, particularly for the show’s female leads. With the rapidly rising number of triple twists, missing bodies, and court cases, it’s going to be interesting to see if writers can keep the viewers onboard long enough to sort it all out. As demonstrated in the first season though, it’s often the cast that saves the series from the writers’ tendency to get tangled in complicated plot points, and that’s true again here. Hagman, Duffy, and Strong in particular earn big points this week trying to inject some heart into the numerous dark new twists. Unfortunately, their work is again made harder than it should be by an overly plot-driven script, and jarringly random turns that seem to punish rather than reward longtime fans. Read the rest of this entry »
by David on January 29, 2013
(Note: This review covers the second episode of “Dallas’s” 2-hour season two U.S. premiere. The first episode “Battle Lines” is reviewed separately here.)
“Venomous Creatures” is the more fun of the first two hours in the new season of “Dallas.” Aaron Allen’s script deftly plays to the main characters’ sweet spots, and it feels like they’re having fun with the words on the page. It’s hard to know exactly who the title may be referring to though, as there seems to be venom flying from multiple creatures within the three main storylines: Christopher’s quest for annulment from Pamela, Ann and Bobby’s search for answers in regards to Emma Ryland’s abduction and return, and Sue Ellen’s fight to avoid indictment on bribery charges. If you thought season one was full of twists, belly up to the bar with Sue Ellen and pour yourself a glass of wine. Season 2 is going to make your head spin.
by David on January 28, 2013
(Note: This review covers only the first episode of “Dallas’s” 2-hour season two premiere. The second episode “Venomous Creatures” is reviewed separately here.)
“Dallas” kicks off its second season with the confident, if slightly uneven, premiere “Battle Lines.” As the title suggests, this first hour is all about re-framing the central conflicts amongst the eight main characters for the new season. The secrets and lies of season 1 start to be laid bare, and a couple of new “divas” join the cast, setting up some potentially explosive new fireworks for the entire cast. By the episode’s end, it’s game on for the Ewings, Barnes, and Rylands. Read the rest of this entry »
by David on January 15, 2013
Fun news for longtime “Dallas” fans today, as William Keck over at tvguide.com reports that two classic Dallas Divas will appear at J.R. Ewing’s funeral in Season 2.
Cathy Podewell who played J.R. Ewing’s second wife Cally Harper-Ewing from 1988-1991, and Deborah Shelton who played one of J.R.’s longest-running extra-curricular lovers, Mandy Winger from 1984-87 will both be paying their respects to old J.R. Read the rest of this entry »
by David on December 6, 2012
In Part 1 of my essay on the significance of J.R. Ewing’s death on the new “Dallas,” I revisited the 1985 death of Bobby Ewing, when Patrick Duffy left the original series. Though Bobby and J.R. are polar opposite characters, and the situations and timing around their onscreen deaths are vastly different, they are the two central figures in the “Dallas” mythology, and as such the loss of either of them forces a central shift in the series’ structure. So I looked at what lessons current “Dallas” writers could draw from the original series’ handling of Bobby’s death back then.
We’ve seen how Phil Capice and the original “Dallas” creative team adeptly leveraged legacy characters in a layered combination of cameos and extended story arcs to underscore the gravity of the show’s loss, and to chart a new course forward in the aftermath of Bobby’s death. As current “Dallas” writers prepare to pen the death of J.R. Ewing then, we indulge in a bit of speculation about how legacy characters could be enlisted to give the iconic villain the epic send-off he deserves, and the shift in focus the show needs. Read the rest of this entry »
When a Ewing Brother Dies:
Why “Dallas” Writers Should Look to the Show’s History as They Chart a Future Without J.R.
by David on December 4, 2012
With Larry Hagman’s passing in the midst of shooting its sophomore season, TNT’s “Dallas” faces a unique challenge as it tries to seat itself in the hearts and viewing habits of new and longtime fans. Mr. Hagman’s death is heartbreaking to his longtime fans, particularly since by all accounts he was relishing stepping back into J.R.’s boots one last time. His joy and respect for the series that made his career pervaded his every scene in last summer’s inaugural season on TNT’s “Dallas.” Fans and critics rightfully praised his return as one of the central highlights of the new series. He stole the show. Read the rest of this entry »
by David on November 24, 2012
“It should say: ‘Here lies upright citizen J.R. Ewing.
This is the only deal he ever lost,’”
- Larry Hagman speaking in 1988 about J.R.’s epitaph.
In honor of the passing of TV legend and “Dallas” icon Larry Hagman on November 23, 2012, I’ve compiled a list of highlights of the countless industry, press and professional tributes offered up in his memory. This tribute page will continue to be updated in the days and weeks to come as we hear from more of Larry’s colleagues. Read the rest of this entry »
by David on October 31, 2012
Sure there’s Michael, Jason and Freddy, but you know who’s even scarier on a dark and stormy night than those silver screen serial killers? A Classic Dallas Diva with vengeance on her mind. Her only costume is Travilla, killer smoky eyes, some fabulous bling, a platinum wig and maybe a turban. We took a look back at some classic Dallas moments to bring you some of the most chilling highlights from some truly Dangerous Divas! Happy Halloween! Read the rest of this entry »
by David on September 12, 2012
A few weeks ago, in my review of the season 1 finale, I posited that the biggest challenge with the reveal of “Rebecca Sutter” as Cliff’s daughter Pamela Rebecca, is the lack of a credible motive for Cliff Barnes to do something so dark and twisted to his only nephew Christopher. Based on the writing in season 1, and on the Facebook timeline created by series writers to fill-in the gaps of the 20 years since the original series ended, there seem few reasons great enough for the hugely successful Cliff to hatch this diabolical plan two years ago, while J.R. was (relatively) broke and nearly catatonic in a nursing home. The whole thing continued to gnaw at me the more I thought about it, so I decided to go back to the source material again to see if perhaps I could uncover any clues to Cliff’s latest, and arguably most sadistic, scheme against the Ewings. Read the rest of this entry »
by David on August 21, 2012
In Part 3 of our sit-down interview with Morgan Brittany, we discuss the “The Golden Years” of Dallas. During seasons 6 through 9, heightened efforts in writing and direction, and some strategic staff changes in costuming and overall production design resulted in some of the strongest seasons of the series artistically, and in terms of the writing for the women of “Dallas.” We also discuss in detail Katherine’s major story arc, her long-simmering obsession to split-up Bobby and Pam.
Watch, after the jump…
by David on August 15, 2012
Recently we sat down for an exclusive on camera interview with
Morgan Brittany, who played Katherine Wentworth for five seasons of the original “Dallas” series. Here in Part 2 of our conversation, Morgan talks about her audition for the role, her decision to take the part, and how she collaborated with the show’s writers and producers from the beginning, to develop Katherine into one of the series’ most popular and iconic villains.
by David on August 13, 2012
Season 1 ended in a life and death showdown, a near death health scare, and at least two major revelations that rocked the entire cast, and will undoubtedly set the trajectory for Season 2. There was no shortage of back stabs, triple-twists, and red herrings. But when the dust settled after all the “gee-whiz” plot developments, something felt slightly off about the season-ender. After two weeks of narrative and creative growth, “Revelations” turned back the clock on much of Season 1, and potentially a larger chunk of the last 30 years of “Dallas” history. Read the rest of this entry »
by David on August 8, 2012
In honor of tonight’s “Dallas” Season 1 Cliffhanger, we’re happy to launch Part 1 of our sit-down, on camera interview with “Dallas’s” most infamous Cliffhanger Queen, Derby Winner Morgan Brittany.
We sat down with Morgan last month in downtown LA to discuss her career, her years on “Dallas, ” her continued fan support, and where she thinks Katherine would be today. In Part 1, we focus on her beginnings in Hollywood, her favorite roles, and how roles as Vivien Leigh led to the birth of Katherine Wentworth.
We’ll be rolling out the other segments very soon.
Watch, after the jump…
by David on August 4, 2012
With the Season 1 finale of TNT’s triumphant “Dallas” continuation only days away, we wanted to do something special to honor the occasion. So we went into the Diva2000 Super Computer here at HQ, and cross-referenced the Final Four Dallas Divas from the popular brackets game that launched DallasDivasDerby.com, with classic Dallas cliffhangers.
What we found was impressive! The Final Four Divas that fans voted for in the game are also some of the biggest Cliffhanger Queens of the original “Dallas.” Whether they were causing the trouble, or falling victim to it, the fates of these four ladies often hung in the balance as everyone took off for summer vacation.
So we give you this little mash-up tribute to your Final Four Derby Divas, some of the greatest Cliffhanger Queens ever to grace the TV screen. We re-tooled our Final Four video and took some artistic liberties with chronology based on the ladies’ performance in the Derby. We hope you like it.
There might even be a new cameo in there, if you watch to the end…
by David on August 2, 2012
“Family Business” is the newly crowned Best Episode of the Season, and after last week’s stellar “No Good Deed”, that’s saying something. The writing and direction of Dallas’s first season on TNT continues to gain depth by slowing things down a notch, and getting back to the core familial relationships at the heart of this iconic series. Though the episode was overall lighter for our “divas,” there were some serious developments for Sue Ellen and Rebecca along way, as most of the episode focused tightly around the relationships between brothers Bobby and JR, and their sons Christopher and John Ross. Read the rest of this entry »
by David on July 26, 2012
Hands down, “No Good Deed” is the first episode of the season to fully tap into the magic of the “Dallas” legacy. In writing, direction, and performances, the episode delivers the finest, most fully-realized gift yet to longtime fans. After a few too many episodes of uneven character development, numbingly fast action-film style pacing, and distracting historical inconsistencies, “No Good Deed” gets back to the core of what makes “Dallas” great serial television. Read the rest of this entry »
by David on July 10, 2012
Now that TNT has picked-up “Dallas” for a 15 episode second season, it’s starting to feel like the network is confident in the show’s staying power. We’re elated there will be another season, and that it will be even longer than than the first. “Dallas” is fun.
That said, now that series execs and writing staff are sitting down to plot and write Season 2, and Linda Gray just sent out a call-to-action to diehard “Dallas” fans regarding Sue Ellen’s diminished role in Season 1, we think it’s a good time to offer-up a condensed list of what we’ve been hearing longtime fans say they want to see, and see more of, in “Dallas” going forward. So with tongue (only slightly) in cheek, we respectfully submit this note to the staff at TNT and Warner, with hope that it may change some minds, and be fodder for the upcoming discussions about the show’s creative direction in the future. Read the rest of this entry »