Tuesday, April 16, 2013

New Dallas Season Two Finale

I'll come right out and say it.   I think the second season of the new Dallas on TNT, which flagged a little at the beginning, put together a brilliant narrative after actor Larry Hagman died, and wove that into a superb and satisfying J. R. story capped off with a masterful twist ending last night.

The question after J. R.'s death was, once again, who killed J. R.?   Evidence increasingly pointed to Cliff Barnes, who certainly would have shot J. R. in a heartbeat if he'd had the chance.  And Cliff was indeed in Mexico in the same hotel as J. R. at the time of his death.

But it turns out that J. R., dying of cancer, had one of his loyal men shoot him, to give the Ewings a hand they could play to get the best of Cliff Barnes in his attempt to wipe the Ewings clean out of the energy business.  This was indeed a master plan, and Bobby played it to perfection in the weeks that followed.

Even the acting improved in the series, almost as if the actors were galvanized into better performances, rallying to keep the series flying, after the death of Larry Hagman.  Josh Henderson, who often seemed to rattle out his lines in the first season, and the first part of the second season, suddenly began to almost channel J. R., and Hagman's delivery, in crucial scenes.  The result was a powerful and effective performance.   Julie Gonzalo, who was ok in the first season and a half, also put in some impressive performances as she lost her babies and confronted her father Cliff.   Jesse Metcalf, who was probably the best of the new cast in the first season, continued to put in good work in the second season.

Patrick Duffy and Linda Gray were fine as Bobby and Sue Ellen in the first season and a half, but they too got even better in the aftermath of J. R.'s death.  Duffy in particular put in some of the best acting in the whole history of the series, as he dealt with the death of his brother and strove to implement J. R.'s plan.

At this time, the continuation of the series is not clear, but it would be a shame if it didn't come back.  In addition to perfectly wrapping up the death of J. R., the finale also set the foundation for a new series of  powerful conflicts.  John Ross is not only married to Pamela but sleeping with Emma - continuing the great duplicitous tradition of J. R.   And Elena, spurned to some extent by Christopher - who then changes his mind and wants her back - seems to be forging an alliance with Cliff who's behind bars.

The revived series has found its beat, and I'd love to see what happens next.

And see also The New Dallas: An Outright Pleasure and New Dallas One Season One Evaluation


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