Hold on tight! Dallas is back tonight!
(l-r, Jordana Brewster, Jesse Metcalfe, Patrick Duffy,
Josh Henderson & Larry Hagman)
It’s in the first few moments of tonight’s second season premiere of Dallas that we see how John Ross (Josh Henderson) deals with his fiancée leaving him for his cousin, Christopher (Jesse Metcalfe): he picks up a random bride-to-be at a bachelorette party and gets her into bed. Of course, this being Dallas, nothing is that simple. The morning after reveals his true, dastardly motives.
(Oh, and you Jesse Metcalfe fans won’t be deprived of eye candy. You’ll see the buff actor frolicking in the Ewing swimming pool – the same pool, for those paying attention to the history of the series, where his biological mother, Kristen – you know, the one who infamously shot JR – drowned years ago.)
That’s right, we’re back in the world of backstabbing, family strife, bed hopping and shirtless opportunities for hunky stars Josh Henderson and Jesse Metcalfe. However, one other arduous task the new season of Dallas (2-hr premiere tonight at 9pm on TNT) will also face is the unexpected real-life death of Larry Hagman and how that loss will impact the series moving forward.
As JR Ewing, Hagman was always the pivotal player both in the original series and in the TNT revival. While the actor filmed at least five episodes of the new season before his passing in November, what will happen when the show addresses the loss of J.R. Ewing himself? Can it survive without one of the biggest pop culture icons in history?
Thankfully, according to Metcalfe, the legacy of Hagman and JR will live on in the show. “This tragedy,” he explained, “has really kind of set up another monumental television event. And I think our writers, our producers and obviously us as actors have all come together to try to honor Larry and honor the character of JR Ewing in the best way that we know how.”
The death of JR Ewing will start a new mystery that should have Hagman smiling from the heavens.
The way the show will handle JR’s death is still under wraps, but from what Metcalfe said it could possibly reflect on the Who Shot JR phenomenon that made the series an international success back in 1980. “Episode 8 is really the episode where the mystery of JR’s death begins to unravel,” he said. “It’s entitled ‘JR’s Masterpiece.’ And a lot of very intriguing storylines are set in motion because of his death. I think they’re really going to fuel the second half of the season and possibly seasons to come.”
The good news, though, is that JR is a big presence in the first episodes of the new season, both in dramatic scenes with ex-wife Sue Ellen (Linda Gray), who we’ll see be tempted to return to booze, and steering John Ross to seek the revenge he desperately wants. Of course, there are also the trademark one-liners, including one great moment in tonight’s premiere when he comments on the surprising number of male assistants now working in the new Ewing Energies offices.
Another story point in these initial episodes is the fact that Rebecca (Julie Gonzalo) revealed in the finale that she is the daughter of Ewing nemesis Cliff Barnes (Ken Kercheval) and Afton Cooper (Audrey Landers). The secret is out and the Ewings, particularly Christopher, will be dealing with getting his marriage annulled and dealing with the fact that Rebecca (real name, Pamela Rebecca Barnes) is pregnant…with twins!
Is Rebecca merely trying to do her Daddy’s dirty work, or is it more about revenge for Christopher returning to the open arms of his former girlfriend Elena (Jordana Brewster)? “I think it’s a little bit of both,” Gonzalo said. “I think [Rebecca] grew up listening to her father always have this huge feud with the Ewings. So I think in a way she was programmed to please her father.” However, a broken heart is a part of her drive, too. “I think she really did fall in love with Christopher in the first season and it’s one of those things…she definitely is hurt by the fact that Christopher never would have loved her as much as he loved Elena.”
Watch for John Ross to do some action both in the boardroom and in the bedroom.
But what better way to get over a broken heart than to climb into bed with a hot man. Enter Henderson’s John Ross, who will see an opportunity in quietly pairing up with Rebecca to put the screws to Christopher. The sexy Henderson expressed what a big deal it will be once everyone finds out John Ross is in cahoots with a Barnes. “That’s a big thing for him because his father’s JR and her father is Cliff, that’s a fun, exciting, dangerous thing for him,” he explained. “It helps distract the emotions he is feeling for Elena a little bit because he has to stare at Christopher and Elena every day.”
Speaking of Elena, watch for a more determined drive this season, said Brewster. “I think last season a lot of her time was spent being torn between two guys and not knowing exactly what to do,” she said. “And now that everything is okay on the home front, for a while at least, she now can focus on her business career.” Brewster also hinted that Elena’s strong moral code may be tested as she gets more involved in the cutthroat world of Ewing business.
Another Season 2 bonus? Judith Light as the evil ex-mother-in-law of Ann (Brenda Strong)
Watching these early second season episodes, it’s impossible not to think about how the show will function without Larry Hagman’s commanding presence as JR. Henderson said that the death of his father will hit John Ross very hard. “I think that he is going to feel like JR left him,” he said, “and [John Ross is] going to be doing things out of emotions instead of really sitting back to think. Especially after JR passes. It’s going to be really interesting. That for me as an actor is best, because I get to play such a torn person that’s trying to be confident. Confident, but also still learning who he is and learning how to do things the Ewing way.”
Dallas kicks off season 2 with a 2-hour premiere starting tonight at 9pm on TNT.