Dallas on TNT: My Second Season Critique
Now that Dallas has completed its second season and we fans are going through withdrawal it’s time to take a look at how the show stacks up to its maiden voyage last summer. The show certainly had a rockier ride in its winter run, pulling lower ratings throughout the 15-episode run, but overall I think it has made progress. On April 30, TNT confirmed the show will return in early 2014 for a third season. For now, here’s my take on what worked on the show and what didn’t along with a few bits of unsolicited advice for next season. In other words, here’s the good, the bad and the ugly of Dallas: Season Two.
The bigger scale. Moving the action to Ewing Energies helped bring the dramatic stakes to a new level that echoes the corporate intrigue of the original series. There’s still no sign of a junior cartel, but it’s still early in the game.
Sue Ellen’s more prominent role. I’m an unabashed Linda Gray fan so I’ll freely admit that I enjoyed seeing Sue Ellen front and center in the storyline pitting her and John Ross against Bobby and Christopher in the struggle to control Ewing Energies. She gave as good as she got, especially when the Ewings united to take on Cliff and his crafty cohorts Harris and Governor MacConaghey.
The expansion of the Ramos family. Giving Elena a troublesome brother was a good move that fleshed out her storyline, which I felt was thin in season one. The chaos stirred up by Drew sets the stage for an interesting new direction for Elena, who seems destined to take Pamela’s place as the show’s resident vengeful vixen.
Guest shots by TV stars from the past. It was fun to see Lee Majors, star of the ‘70s TV hit “The Six Million Dollar Man,” and Steven Weber of “Wings” get enmeshed in the never-ending feud between Cliff Barnes and the Ewings as Ken Richards and slimy Governor McConaghey. Who’s next? Matthew Perry?
The appearances by original Dallas stars. The occasion of J.R.’s death set the stage for a slew of visits by old Dallas characters who attended his memorial. It was like a high-school reunion – for those who enjoy such things – to see J.R.’s former loves Mandy Winger and Cally Harper, brothers Ray Krebbs and Gary Ewing and fan favorite Lucy. Subsequent episodes continued the retro theme with visits from Lucy’s Knots Landing mom Val and Pamela Rebecca’s mother Afton Cooper.
The appearances by original Dallas stars. As nice as it was to see the familiar faces pop up, the brevity of their screen time practically reduced them to being figures in a wax museum. Whereas Audrey Landers got a fair amount of screen time roaring through her scenes at Pamela’s hospital bedside and Ted Shackelford had a three-episode arc, Joan Van Ark’s blink-and-you-missed-it blip was a huge letdown. The fact that nobody mentioned Cally’s child by J.R. during the memorial episode is a travesty. I get that the show is about the new generation but there’s no point in bringing back vintage characters if they’re going to be treated like glorified extras.
Emma the Enema. I don’t know whether the character of Emma Brown is supposed to be annoying or the actress playing her is grating but I can’t warm up to her. I see her as a 21st Century version of Lucy Ewing, who was pretty spoiled when the original Dallas premiered but eventually matured into a fan favorite. Emma has serious rebellion issues that promise to cause big-time headaches for her parents next season. Time will tell whether she’s destined to become a Dallas villainess we love to hate or one we just hate.
The resolution to the original Pamela Ewing’s fate.
I give Cynthia Cidre credit for confronting the fans’ speculation about Victoria Principal returning to Dallas head-on. The “will-she-or-won’t-she” debate was good for stoking online buzz for a while but eventually the question had to be resolved. I’m just not sure Dallas made the right choice in confirming that Pam died, picking up the storyline from 1988 that had Pam terminally ill and pretending to be in love with her physician. The Dallas writers took the plot further and made the good doctor the last man Pam would share her life with until succumbing to cancer. The Ewings brushed off the news in the season finale in a manner that appeared to be a swipe at Principal for sticking to her guns and refusing to join the show. I for one would have preferred that Pam be recast (not with Jaclyn Smith, however, as had been rumored) and that she return to Dallas with vengeance on her mind. I think this would have been an exciting storyline with juicy possibilities for high drama among the characters, both old and new. This culmination in Pam’s story, plus the continued absence of classic villainess Katherine Wentworth, indicates that Cynthia Cidre has firmly planted Dallas in the present despite the nostalgic wishes of original Dallas fans. I can appreciate her position but when the show returns it will need to establish a compelling antagonist now that Larry Hagman is no longer with us. Aside from Bobby, Sue Ellen and Harris, the show lacks gravitas. The new actors are nice to look at and do a good job with the material but I can’t shake the feeling I’m watching Dallas-lite. Where are the rugged oil tycoons and classic vamps the show used to serve up? Hopefully Joaquin Ramos will be the kind of man who will stir things up and give Elena a chance to sharpen her claws as she determines to avenge J.R.’s swindling of her father as Cliff Barnes revealed in the finale. I want Dallas to return for season three as a war zone.
I am not happy how they treated the character Pam. I think they needed to bring her back to bring closure.
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I agree, Lisa, but it seems the Dallas producers want to move on.
I am a great fan of the old new Dallas.what you commented here is right on. But would like to see Ann Ewing stay on the show. I am waiting to buy the second season when it comes out. And hopely continue to see a third season. Naturally it will be more with the younger ones as the older ones might not want to go as long as the old dallas was. My withdrawals symptons are getting worse looking forward to more Dallas.season 3
Thanks for your comments. I also like Ann and would have enjoyed seeing Pam and Ann become rivals. Ann is feisty and needs a good antagonist to come up against.
I disagree about the Pam situation. They did the right thing bringing closure to that and I was more than pleased with that resolution. I would like to see the return of Katherine in season 3. Love the new series.
I agree that Emma is a drain and that her mother is just OK in her role as Mrs. Ewing. They did a good job of developing her and building her up. Yes, the Joan Van Ark scene, snooze you lose bit was tokenism. Also, Cally and no son? And what about JR’s illegitimate son from his trist with Veronica (the guy who joined Duffy is Step By Step).
I like that Victoria Principal stuck to her guns and said “no” to coming back to the show in any capacity. They probably threw a lot of dough at her and she stood her ground, probably even more came after Larry Hagman passed.
The expansion of the Ramos family is good … and we should see a side of Elena which will surprise all of us. I do see Emma’s role expanding but if the show goes into a fourth season, I don’t think she’ll be a player.
A return by Katherine would be welcome since she might be able to re-claim her shares of Wentworth Tool and Dye. Also, what about Jenna coming back perhaps disappointed with Ray (since Ray failed at everything unlike Jock) and giving Annie a run for her money with Bobby’s heart?? Pam decided she won’t do it, so it should be someone we know.
I thought seasons 1 and 2 were great. Yes, we lost JR but that does NOT mean Dallas is dead. It’s bruised up big time but the kids will have to take over the backstabbing and jousting and they have done that nicely so far. Looking forward to Season 3!!
Great points, thanks. Perhaps a visit by Jenna is in order after all. She’s the mother of Bobby’s son Lucas, after all.
Can`t wait for the third season I think they have been well done I know JR is gone but everyone else is doing a fine job Just keep them coming. They should be able to continue with the young ones and will get a larger audience with them if done right.(Its a heck of a lot better than what`s on TV now) Bobby looks good as does the older crew.Sue Ellen etc..
Do You Know if You Can Buy Dallas on TNT: My Second Season.if You Do Will You Let Me Know,Thank`s
come on, bring back the bitches… where’s abby (donna mills) from knots landing… and that 3rd wheel in the boby-pam triangle (played by morgan fairchild then prisicilla presley; shelley hack can easily pick up this one)… and what’s wrong with a re-cast pam being played by jaclyn smith or lynda carter or connie selleca?
Hmmm. I’d consider Lynda Carter, but I think Victoria’s big brown Pam eyes were too iconic to replace.
Either one would be great but I tend to lean to Lynda Carter