Did you ever notice that there are a LOT of scenes on this show of people reading something? VERY intently? Entire plot points hinge on A FILE or A DOCUMENT. It’s funny because it’s actually so true to ’80s-style nighttime soaps, which were ALL ABOUT business deals (when they weren’t about adultery or secret pregnancies) and since business was conducted on paper back then, one got used to seeing a lot of DRAMATIC MANILA FOLDERS.
This stuck out to us partially because of the anachronism (relatively few scenes of people staring intently at computer monitors, after all) but mainly because it signals one of the many ways the creators behind this show really thought about what they were doing. We are, to our great surprise, enjoying this show far more than we thought we would and the reason for that comes down to one thing: the people involved in creating it know EXACTLY what kind of product they want to put out there. The biggest problem with most new shows is that they don’t have a mission statement in place and usually spend the first half of the first season floundering and flailing about, trying to hook an audience. The creators knew what they wanted to do: give you what you loved about Dallas and skip over the parts where it got silly or too complicated. Clearly, massive classic Dallas viewing marathons were the order of the day for everyone involved, because somehow they’ve managed to boil the world of Southfork down to its very essence and then took that as their starting point for this relaunch. In the world of Dallas, every office has a safe, every hotel room has a hidden camera, every member of the family has a scheme, and entire lives can be permanently destroyed by a piece of paper. That’s just how they roll on Southfork.
This is why Bobby is still a sap, J.R. is still delicious fun to watch, and Sue Ellen’s constant befuddlement is still hilarious. Because we don’t know about you, but prior to the relaunch, if anyone had asked us to sum up those three characters, we would have said, “Sap, delicious, and befuddled.” You don’t need to know anything more about them.
What you do need to know is what the hell is going on with all these damn kids running around. This has been our only true criticism of the show, but thankfully, it appears the show knew what it was doing there, too. The younger generation is finally getting a little meat to their stories and so far, we’re pretty okay with what’s going on. Granted, we still think the brittle Elena makes a poor choice for The Woman Who Got Between the Men of Southfork. A femme fatale she’s not, and it’s a little tough to hang the entire Christopher/John Ross feud on this one pretty but otherwise unremarkable young woman. Oddly enough, the weepy Rebecca, with her constant “I’m sorry’s” has turned out to be the more interesting character to us. We still don’t really know what the hell is going on with her and that creepy hipster douchebag brother of hers. Are they really siblings? Because they sure as hell don’t act like it. She pretty much broke up with him this episode and last time we checked, that’s not really a conversation one normally has with a sibling.
Oh, and we HOWLED with laughter at the nosebleed. How perfectly soap opera was that? Most ladies pee on a stick to find out they’re pregnant, but on Southfork, blood dramatically shoots out of the nose, resulting in a near-collapse on the driveway. You’ve gotta love the melodrama of it all.
The other thing they’ve done well with the relaunch is introducing new characters who feel like they fit in this world. Not-Pam’s sleazy, but kinda hot ex-husband, for instance. It’s rare that you ever encountered someone in the world of Dallas who seems like he could give J.R. a run for his money (after all, Cliff Barnes was about the biggest tool who ever tooled), but Not-Pam’s Not-Husband makes a deliciously evil addition to the cast. We hope he and J.R. get to face off to determine who has the most EEEEVIL facial hair. We’re gonna go out on a limb and predict that the whole deal with the necklace that made Not-Pam cry has to do with a dead child. Why else would she put that hideous thing around her neck?
As for the plot… are you kidding us? Shyeah. Like we can keep track of what the hell’s going on. There’s a new scheme or a new twist in an ongoing scheme in practically every scene at this point. Like we said before, this doesn’t bother us all that much. We suppose one could make the argument that the plot is confusing and thus indicates a flaw in the writing, but we’re pretty sure byzantine, confusing plots are a feature, not a bug. We tend to just let it wash over us without trying to figure out too much. For some reason, J.R. really wants to play high-stakes poker with Cliff Barnes in Vegas. Okay. We’ll go with that. For some reason, Grandpa Southfork ingeniously hid the key to the deposit box containing his will inside a replica of the average suburban garage, built right on the grounds of the estate, and told no one about it. Okay. Sure. That’s just how this family does things. Sue Ellen spent the ’80s crashing her car, getting committed to sanitariums, and getting arrested for shooting her husband, but she’s bound to be the next governor of the great state of Texas. Sure! ABSOLUTELY. It simply wouldn’t be Dallas without these bizarre contrivances – and we’re not ashamed to admit we love each and every one of them.
But don’t ask us to explain what’s going on. DALLAS is going on, and that’s all you need to know.