5 Things You Should Know Before You Tune In To Dallas Tonight

This is for those of you who were planning to watch Dallas tonight based merely on the fact that Josh Henderson and Jesse Metcalfe are looking fine in the promo. While I empathize, there’s much more you should know about this continuation of one of the most successful and influential American dramas of all time, which was included on Time Magazine’s list of “100 All-TIME TV shows.”

1.The original Dallas, which aired from 1978 to 1991 on CBS, is the second longest running primetime drama in American television history. Behind Gunsmoke and Law and Order, which tie for longest running with 20 seasons each, Dallas aired for 14 seasons. Considering the show was intended to be a five-part miniseries and nothing more, 14 seasons and four Emmys ain’t bad.

2. Dallas revolved around the Ewings, a wealthy Texas family in the oil and cattle ranching business. The heads of the powerful family were Jock and Miss Ellie played by Jim Davis and Barbara Bel Geddes, who nabbed an Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series in 1980. But the true villain of the show was their eldest son, J.R., an egocentric amoral oil baron who — during a time in America when gas crunches and oil crises dominated the news — made for the perfect villain.

3. The original show was famous for its cliffhangers, most memorably, “Who shot J.R.?” the question that swept the country during the summer of 1980. In the show’s season 3 finale, “A House Divided,” J.R. was mysteriously shot in his office, ending the season and leaving viewers longing for the answer. In the fourth episode of the fourth season the mystery assailant was revealed to be Kristen Shepherd, J.R.’s sister-in-law and lover (Did I mention he was a womanizer?), who shot him in a fit a rage. But that was far from the only cliffhanger Dallas provided; they did it every season. Murders, affairs, fires, unborn children, revealing that people aren’t actually dead… shit is cray. Even the final season ended in a shroud of mystery.

4. The new Dallas is a continuation of the original story, not a reboot. Larry Hagman will return as J.R., but the series will center mostly on his apparently carbon copy of a son John Ross Ewing III (Josh Henderson), and Christopher Ewing (Jesse Metcalfe), the adopted son of Bobby and Pam Ewing. Bobby is J.R.’s youngest brother, and Patrick Duffy will return in the role. Other returning characters include Linda Grey as Sue Ellen Ewing (J.R.’s first wife), Charlene Tilton as Lucy Ewing (J.R.’s niece), Ken Kercheval as Chris Barnes (J.R.’s arch rival), and Steve Kanaly as Ray Krebb’s (Jock’s illegitimate son).

5. It’s a Desperate Housewives reunion! Well, sort of. Besides Jesse Metcalfe, Brenda Strong joins the cast as Ann Ewing, J.R.’s new wife. Other new cast members include the beautiful Jordana Brewster and Julie Gonzalo. No matter what the future holds for J.R. and the rest of the Ewings, you can be sure it will include all the wealth, sex, feuding and intrigue as its predecessor.

The series kicks off with a two-hour premiere tonight at 9/8C on TNT.

(Photo: USA Today)

You can reach this post's author, Kelsey Manning, on twitter.
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    • Riki

      Miss Ellie was played by Barbara Bel Geddes – NOT Barbara Bell Davis…

      • Jenni Maier

        Forgive our intern for her mistake. She was born in the ’90s…

    • MH in LA

      Insider information:

      Although David Jacobs created the original, long-running, award-winning series, he in conspicuously absent in this reincarnation of his show. In fact, TNT elected to take his work, build on it, run with it, and leave him out of the mix. That’s not going to work out so well for them.
      Writers create television every day, and this kind of thing doesn’t go unnoticed. Screwing over the guy who created the mythology of your new show isn’t a smart move for a struggling network.

    • Jess

      The guy who isn’t Jesse Metcalf looks like Evan and Jaron’s secret triplet.

    • MH in LA

      Spoke too soon.

      Looks like TNT did the right thing: “Created by David Jacobs” ran in the opening credits.

    • Victoria

      It’s CLIFF Barnes, not Chris Barnes. If you’ve watched even ten minutes of an original episode, you’d hear that. Or else just cheat and go to IMDB.