Wednesday 17 January 2018

No keeping JR down as 'Dallas' returns from dead

Peter Bray in Dallas

JR EWING has returned to Dallas.

With Larry Hagman reprising his role as the conniving Texas oilman, filming is under way at locations all over the city for TNT's new television series 'Dallas', which will also see the return of Patrick Duffy as JR's brother Bobby and Linda Gray as ex-wife Sue Ellen, along with a new generation of Ewings.

And, of course, the spotlight also returns to the city itself, with its distinctive skyline rising from the prairie.

"We're trying to give the show a real sense of place and Dallas has a real personality," said location manager John Patterson.

"It's a city that does things in a big way. That's part of JR and part of what we try to give the show -- a sense of the city, which is big, shiny, new and looking towards the future."

TNT has ordered 10 episodes of the series, to be shown next summer. Filming for the series, shot entirely in Dallas, began in mid-October and is expected to wrap in late January.

"There was just no way we were going to film anywhere else," said executive producer Cynthia Cidre, who also wrote the pilot for the new series -- a "mix of the old world and the new world".

The original series, shown from 1978 to 1991, enjoyed popularity around the world as viewers tuned in to watch the scheming Ewing family. As the plot twisted and turned season after season, the series contributed to some of TV's most memorable moments.

After Bobby died in a season cliffhanger in 1985 after being hit by a car, the entire next season was revealed to have been a dream when his former wife, with whom he had reconciled, woke up to find him alive, taking a shower.

The 1986-87 season then marked Mr Duffy's return to the cast after a year-long absence.

And, of course, there was the cliffhanger in 1980 that left the whole world in suspense. The catchphrase "Who shot JR?" became part of the common vernacular as viewers waited to find out who had fired on JR.

When viewers tuned in for the answer on November 21, 1980, the shooter was revealed to be JR's vengeful mistress. That episode was seen by more people than any TV programme in history until then.

"That phrase. I don't think there's a country in the world that you could find someone who doesn't know what that is. And it all goes back to 'Dallas'," said Josh Henderson, who plays JR and Sue Ellen's son.

Mr Henderson, who was born in Dallas and spent part of his childhood there, said that working with Mr Hagman had been surreal.

"I find myself sometimes just looking at him sometimes going, 'wow, this is really happening. This is really 'Dallas' again and I'm really kind of family to JR," he said.

Mr Hagman (80) announced in October that he had been diagnosed with "a very common and treatable form" of cancer and planned to continue working on the reboot of 'Dallas'.

"As JR I could get away with anything -- bribery, blackmail and adultery. But I got caught by cancer," he said at the time. "As we all know, you can't keep JR down!"

Irish Independent

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