TV Guide: Oil slicks and old men

2012-09-28 09:28

Gayle  Edmunds looks at the new series of Dallas, which is not earth-shattering but definitely death-defying

What’s with the PVR not recording Dallas any more?

It records the first couple of episodes and then dumps it.

My husband and I – both children of the 1980s – were left groping through the channels trying to find
it last week.

You see, as a friend points out, watching it is like a drink from the fountain of youth without the terrible costs.

The cost? Ask Linda Gray about that – the poor woman can barely move her face having fallen for her surgeon’s promise of eternal youth.

But that’s another issue altogether.

As children we watched through cracks in the door long after lights out, heeding the siren call of that signature music.

Now, as the familiarly strident music strikes up and the slides of Texas – from pastures green to oil rigs and skyscrapers – whizz by, ending on a triumphant note with South Fork ranch coming into focus, we are children again.

I was six when the first episode aired and 19 when Dallas’ primetime reign finally ended.

This show aired at a time when there was really only one show to watch so everyone was united around the water cooler when it came to speculating about who had shot JR.

Nowadays, thanks to the PVR, you’re lucky if you’ve watched the same show as someone else, let alone on the same night.

The new series of Dallas isn’t earth-shattering – though you might call it death-defying.

At 81, Larry Hagman is back as JR and not an iota of that old man’s double-crossing nature has been dulled by age.

The original snake in the grass is still making deals with any devil to save Ewing Oil.

Patrick Duffy (Bobby) is 63, but long gone are his auburn curls and playboy twinkle.

Meanwhile, Gray looks like a wax doll of her former self and she seems to be the only one who kept hold of the famed Ewing money while ditching her much younger version’s penchant for vodka.

Bobby’s former wives, Victoria Principal and Priscilla Presley, both wisely said no to resurrection and they have been upgraded into Brenda Strong.

It’s for the old guard that old fans like us watch – seeing Charlene Tilton (cousin Lucy), who always wore too much lip gloss, still rocking her long blonde hair sans the kindness of youth at the wedding in the first episode was a treat Joan Rivers would have relished.

The only disappointment was that JR’s nemesis Cliff Barnes (Ken Kercheval) didn’t arrive.

But he is due to appear in episode 10.

But it just isn’t cool any more to love oil – we all see dying penguins at best and a decimated Earth at worst.

This is where the trouble with the new version comes in – despite the new-energy story line, at its core the original series was a celebration of decadence and greed personified by the fat-cat oilmen of consumerist America.

Nowadays those guys are pariahs who might just have cost us our future, so it’s hard to root for them.

» Follow me on Twitter @GayleMahala
» Dallas is on M-Net on Tuesdays at 9pm

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