It’s been 20 years since Texas-style lust, greed and cliffhangers had TV fans tuning in to the prime-time soap opera “Dallas.”
Now the juicy 1980s series returns in the Bravo update “Dallas,” a show headlined by such iconic “Ewings” as J. R. (Larry Hagman), Bobby (Patrick Duffy) and Sue Ellen (Linda Gray). These original characters have been brought back by the show’s producers.
Bravo’s 2012 revamp also features a new generation of Ewings to carry on the family tradition of plotting, scheming and down-and-dirty rivalry.
“We’re pretty sure the show is going to be a success. Maybe it’ll be another television phenomenon,” said new “Dallas” addition Jesse Metcalfe on Monday on CTV’s Canada AM.
The series debuted on July 13, pulling in an estimated six million viewers in the United States and 1.9 million viewers in Canada.
Even so, this new incarnation of “Dallas” has a long way to go to duplicate the success of its predecessor, which was included in Time magazine’s 2007 list of the “100 Best TV Shows of All-Time.”
In this new update, 33-year-old Metcalfe plays Christopher Ewing, the adopted son of Bobby and Pam Ewing.
One of the main plotlines in the series revolves around Christopher’s relationship with his cousin John Ross — a young buck who is the lying, conniving, mirror image of his old man, J.R.
“It’s all about the interpersonal relationships of a dysfunctional family, but instead of feuding brothers it’s feuding cousins,” said Metcalfe.
For those too young to remember the original series, which aired from 1978 – 1991, the show revolved around the Ewings, a rich Texas clan in the oil and cattle-ranching business.
The original “Dallas” was rife with dirty business dealings and bedroom scandals.
“Dallas” was also full of inspired cliffhangers, including the celebrated “Who shot J.R.?” mystery that ended the show’s season in March of 1980.
But above all else, “Dallas” was a story about two brothers vying for power and the lengths to which they would go to secure it.
Metcalfe, admittedly, knew nothing about the long-running series.
“I had to go back and watch a few episodes,” he said.
Best known for his portrayal of John Roland on the TV series “Desperate Housewives,” Metcalfe had to learn how to ride a horse for this new job.
“I had a couple of close calls, but never actually got thrown off,” said Metcalfe.
The young actor also managed to hold his own against veteran actors such as Hagman and Duffy.
“They created a great synergy on set for us,” said Metcalfe.
Whether “Dallas” will achieve pop culture status remains to be seen. But judging from the season opener, producers are sticking close to a formula dominated by deceit and dysfunction.
The “Dallas” premiere opened with the Ewing family gathering at Southfork Ranch in advance of Christopher’s wedding.
As the episode unfolded, viewers learned of John Ross’ desire to drill for oil on the ranch. They also learned that Bobby and Christopher opposed the move.
Intrigue of all varieties will await audiences as the show progresses.
Even so, Metcalfe was not sure that this update would work when he first read the script.
“I didn’t know if it was such a good idea to bring back such an iconic 80s show,” said Metcalfe.
“When I read the script I changed my mind,” he said.