Consider the first season of TNT's "Dallas" to be just a warm up.
As the revived oil drama gets season two under way (9 p.m. today), "Dallas" is starting to establish itself in ways that pay homage the original, 1980s version — minus shoulder pads and all.
Stories introduced in season one start breathing on their own — the most notable being the revelation that double-crosser Rebecca Sutter (Julie Gonzalo) is the daughter of longtime Ewing enemy Cliff Barnes.
Rebecca, the ex-wife of Bobby Ewing's adopted son Christopher, is the niece of Bobby's ex-wife, Pam.
Yes, it all gets very confusing, and you need a scorecard to keep up with the players.
Infighting within Ewing Alternative Energy has Bobby (Patrick Duffy), Christopher (Jesse Metcalfe) and John Ross (Josh Henderson) at odds.
And then there's Sue Ellen (the highly under-utilized Linda Gray), whose run for governor threatens her reputation and her sobriety. Gray lights up the screen whenever she gets to be used. However, the writers don't see the full potential of Sue Ellen.
The joy of "Dallas" has never been grand acting moments. It's been in the writing, the use of history and potential to use it to drive story into the future.
This new season seems poised to make good on all that. If it does, the future of "Dallas" is solid.
If not, the drama will be a second-hand version of itself.
Larry Hagman, who died in November, will be missed after J.R. dies midway through the season. His humor, his understanding of what makes "Dallas" work and what the audience wants was unparalleled. The best way to honor Hagman is to follow his example.
Score: 4 stars (out of 5)
Terry Morrow may be reached at 865-342-6445 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
© 2013, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
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