It's been over two decades since viewers wondered "Who shot J.R." But now TNT is bringing Dallas back. The network behind hit cop dramas like The Closer and Rizzoli & Isles announced a 10-episode order for a revival of the series, which aired from 1978-1991. The new version will still focus on family power struggles, but this time from the point of view of J.R.'s son, John Ross. Original stars Larry Hagman, Patrick Duffy, and Linda Gray will all reprise their roles. Though the new Dallas won't begin airing until the summer of 2012, TNT will preview it tonight after the season premiere of Rizzoli & Isles. Could this work?
It won't likely succeed: This reboot just confirms that TV networks have "lost the ability to create intriguing new series," says Logan Burdine at The Landry Hat. Not only will the new effort perpetuate tired stereotypes — that everyone in Dallas "is a wealthy, cowboy-boot wearing oil tycoon," for example — the odds that it will be "even halfway decently written" are only "slightly above zero."
"TNT remake of Dallas won't be better than Deion's"
Nostalgia should ignite interest: Dallas hasn't lingered in the pop culture sphere the same way that Charlie's Angels (also due for a 2012 revival) has, says Ethan Anderton at Collider, so it's unlikely that young viewers will tune in. But they're likely not the audience TNT is targeting. The network has carved itself a "niche in the older demographics," precisely the same group of viewers who "remember the series the most." And with the trio of original stars returning, Dallas 2.0 "just might pull in a decent audience."
"TNT finally greenlights a new Dallas series"
It could've worked, with some retooling: Dallas was "so much of its time," says James Poniewozik at TIME, that a remake seems "unusual" and "unnecessary." A straightforward update of the show will undoubtedly feel dated. "If you're making a Dallas for the 2010s, why not pick a city that is to today as Dallas was to the '80s?" It's easy to understand why TNT thinks this is a good idea: Brand recognition can give a new series "a tailwind," propelling it to success. But with a "TV legend" like Dallas, that recognition can be a "headwind" working against it, too.
"TNT is remaking Dallas. Why are you remaking Dallas, TNT?"
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