Twenty years (!) after the original series ended, J.R. Ewing and company are set to return to the small screen...temporarily, at least.
Larry Hagman (J.R.), Linda Gray (Sue Ellen) and Patrick Duffy (Bobby) are reportedly going to appear in the pilot for a new Dallas series on TNT. It would be the first time the characters have appeared together since 1998's War of the Ewings (which was the follow-up to J.R. Returns and not, as I'd previously thought, a little-known sequel to the H.G. Wells Martian classic).
But before we get too excited about the possibility of "Who Shot J.R.? Part 2," you should probably know the show is going to focus on the younger Ewings:
The new "Dallas," TNT said, will center around the characters John Ross Ewing, who is J. R.'s son, and Christopher, who is Bobby's adopted son. Josh Henderson (of "Desperate Housewives") will play John Ross and Jordana Brewster ("Fast & Furious") has been cast as a woman named Elena, who will come between John Ross and Christopher. The role of Christopher has not yet been cast and an air date for the new series was not immediately announced.
So while there's no definite info on when the series will debut, I already have the perfect actor in mind for Christopher: Charlie Sheen.
You're right to praise my genius, but the choice is so obvious it isn't like the producers could possibly go another route. Sheen's 45, Patrick Duffy is 61. So not only do you have the possibility that the squeaky clean Bobby sired a child in his teens then "adopted" him to cover it up, they could also turn it around and make it so Christopher is actually J.R.'s son. It would ratchet up the competition between him and John Ross, who would suddenly find his position as heir to J.R.'s fortune in doubt. More importantly for TNT, Sheen wouldn't have to worry about his character's image because, like him, Christopher would also have an unhealthy proclivity for hookers and blow.
Just like his old man.
There are historical ties as well. The original series ran on CBS, home to Sheen's current (as of this writing) show, Two and a Half Men. And if the idea tanks, well, it's not like the show is any stranger to do-overs.
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I can't overstate the cultural impact Dallas had in the 1980s. It still colors the perception most foreigners have of Texas. As recently as 2001, I convinced a group of Europeans that the government allowed Texans to carry guns on airplanes, for "cultural reasons" (to be fair, they were Belgians, who are notoriously dim to begin with). Perhaps more significantly, it has -- for over 30 years -- given the city of Dallas the mistaken impression it's something more than just an arid tornado magnet.
The episode that revealed who actually shot J.R. at the end of Season 2 is still the second most-watched non-sporting TV event of all time (behind the M*A*S*H series finale). On a personal level, Victoria (Pam) Principal was the third in my pre-adolescent Holy Trinity of TV Hotness, along with Lynda Carter and Jaclyn Smith. And in my circle of friends, a female who's had too much to drink is routinely referred to as "Sue Ellen."
Dallas was such a phenomenon of its time I simply can't believe anything will come of Dallas: The Next Generation (or North Gossip Girl Forty, or whatever the hell they call it). Every TV drama has its version of J.R. now, which dilutes the very qualities that made Hagman's original portrayal so affecting. Like every other show on television that isn't a situation comedy or written by Shonda Rhimes, the new Dallas will feature backstabbing, adultery, and (probably) murder. Just like the original. How dull.
Unless they listen to me about Sheen, that is.