'Dallas' returns with J.R. Ewing's final schemes
“Who Shot J.R.?” was the Dallas mystery that sparked a nationwide mania in 1980. Now, as the TNT reboot of the series opens its second season at 9 p.m. Monday, the question is: How will they kill J.R., and honor the memory of Larry Hagman?
Five of Season 2's 15 episodes had been filmed before Hagman, 81, died of cancer in November. Executive producer Cynthia Cidre says a leftover scene featuring Hagman will be incorporated into the sixth episode, then Episode 7 will begin posing questions about J.R.'s absence.
How J.R. exits won't be revealed until Episode 8 on March 11. Cidre promises a mystery; “There are no straight lines on Dallas. That's why people tune in.”
But she does promise a proper sendoff for the character, and for the actor who made him a household name. The funeral and memorial service, says Dallas co-star Linda Gray (Sue Ellen Ewing), is done with “beautiful dignity,” and will help bring closure to fans.
Guests will include original cast members including Steve Kanaly (Ray Krebbs) and Charlene Tilton (Lucy Ewing). Others, not yet announced, may include actresses who played “ex-wives and former girlfriends” on the original Dallas, Cidre says.
While a few scripts had to be scrapped after Hagman's untimely death, much of Season 2's story arc will continue fleshing out the story that began last year when Dallas returned to TV after more than two decades. The reboot was one of last year's top cable dramas, averaging more than 6 million viewers in its first season.
When the debut season ended in August, John Ross (Josh Henderson), J.R.'s son, and Christopher (Jesse Metcalfe), Bobby's son, were still battling over the future of Ewing Energies. That fight became more complicated when it was revealed Christopher's wife, Rebecca (Julie Gonzalo), is the daughter of Ewing nemesis Cliff Barnes (Ken Kercheval), who is scheming to take over Ewing Energies.
On the romance front, Elena Ramos (Jordana Brewster), on the verge of marrying John Ross, instead falls back into Christopher's arms after Rebecca's betrayal is exposed.
“The show continues to be about the fight for Ewing Energies and the love stories among the young people” says Cidre. “But now there's an overarching story about what happened to J.R.,” a story line that will envelop the season “completely and absolutely. ... His presence and personality, and how he affected his son and the rest of his family, and his absence, should permeate the rest of the season.”
Hagman's castmates will be reminded daily of his absence. “It's a tough one for all of us,” says Gray who, like Patrick Duffy as J.R.'s brother Bobby, had been close to Hagman for more than 30 years.
“I keep expecting him to come on the set,” she says. “And I keep reading the script thinking, ‘Where's our scene together?' It's hard to envision going on without him, although knowing him as well as I did, that's what he'd want.”
Duffy says he'll miss Hagman, but takes comfort in memories of his friend. “I was, and still am, so saturated with 35 years of my best friend. So going back to work is going back to work. We'll address the situation and I'll act my (butt) off, because inside I'll be happy. Bobby's got to be in mourning, but inside he's still my best friend.”
Henderson, who says he saw Hagman as a father figure, says his goal going forward is to have Hagman's spirit live through him. “I haven't known this show yet without J.R. always over my shoulder, so this is a different thing for me,” Henderson says. “A lot of times you shoot a film or a TV series and a character may pass away, but it's just for the story. This is completely different.”
Meanwhile, Hagman's Airstream trailer remains on set. Production call sheets still carry his name. And before every episode, Hagman's name will roll with the rest of the credits.
Carol Memmott is a staff writer for USA Today.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Big plays cost Steelers defense in preseason loss at Bills
- Steelers notebook: Tomlin mum on Bryant suspension
- Rossi: Beleaguered Steelers need MVP from Big Ben
- Happ’s strong start, Ramirez’s homer pace Pirates past Rockies
- Pitt star running back Conner remains grounded despite success
- Pirates notebook: Hurdle’s faith in Polanco pays off
- Architecture: Pittsburgh history in 10 houses
- QB Vick hits ground running in debut
- Port Authority’s plan for car-free communities slow to bear fruit
- Patience serves as virtue amid pitching prospect Glasnow’s quest for majors
- Pennsylvania welfare employees targeted in crackdown