June 13, 2012
I Just Found Out Dallas is Back on TV, But I'm Not Watching
Posted by Christine Hurt

So, I guess I have to admit that the summer I was eleven, I often sat around and wondered who shot J.R.  this should actually be more embarassing to my parents, who let me watch Dallas every Sunday night, but there wasn't a lot for kids to watch then, even (or especially) on cable.  I may have even had a t-shirt (custom-made at the mall) that said "I shot J.R.," or maybe I just wanted one. 

Today, the NYT has a (mostly unfavorable) review of the new Dallas show, "When Dallas Was the Capital of America."  The new show, which catches up with the second generation of Ewings, can't recapture that time, according to the article, because it doesn't exist anymore.  Interestingly, the article never mentions the Dallas Cowboys, the Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders, or Urban Cowboy.  The article describes the differences as middle-class grittiness versus modern global glitz.  The Ewings weren't jet-setters; their oil and cattle businesses were local, not global.  I take it that the new show is more Wall Street than Oil Patch. 

But more has changed than just the globalization of the oil markets.  (The author obviously never watched the show -- the show always talked about "the Cartel" and foreign oil producers appeared sporadically, but they came to Dallas.)  Dallas has changed.  Southfork, which was supposed to be "out in the country," is basically in Plano now, which is a medium-sized city.  The ranch, which is now a conference center, is surrounded by suburbs and exurbs.  I wonder now if someone early on had thought about setting Dallas in Houston, which is the actual Oil Patch, and is roughly where Urban Cowboy was set.  But the TV show was riding the wave of the Dallas Cowboys, who were America's Team (the old joke is that in the 1990s, they became America's Most Wanted.)  Both the team and the cheerleaders (who had their own made-for-TV movie) figured prominently in the opening credits.  Houston didn't sound as glamorous, I'm sure (and no one loved the Oilers much). 

I think the remake will also have to exist somehow in the shadow of the Bush family.  At the time of the first TV show, America was not that familiar with the George H.W. Bush family.  Though it was popular at the beginning of the first Reagan administration, I don't think we viewed the family as a "dynasty" until George W. Bush and Jeb Bush became governors, and then of course W became president.  Now, the show has to not be the Bush family.  Which is almost regrettable, because that could be an interesting show!

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