Home Television “Dallas” Without Larry Hagman as JR: Forget It

As a devoted “Dallas” fan from its golden era, I must speak up now.

There is no “Dallas” reboot for TV without Larry Hagman as JR Ewing. I’m sorry, that’s all there is to it.

I am fearful anyway of a revived “Dallas” that pits Jr and Sue Ellen’s son John Ross against Bobby and Pam Ewing’s adopted son, Christopher. Simply making it a show about warring cousins is not enough.

“Dallas” worked initially because JR and Bobby were fighting for the love of their father, Jock Ewing. Jock also had a ne’er do well drunk of a son in Gary, and a bastard son in Ray Krebs. The dynastic, patriarchal set up is what gave “Dallas” its frisson. And the fact that Hagman, as JR, was so deliciously over the top bedding hookers, madams, secretaries and business associates and putting the screws to anyone who got in his way.

The other great element of “Dallas” was its Greek chorus. When the show went off the air in 1991, I interviewed the two dozen of so recurring non contract players who made “Dallas” such a hoot, My favorites were Sly, JR’s secretary, played by Deborah Rennard, and Fern Fitzgerald, whose Marilee Stone, leader of the oil cartel, was brilliant. The lawyers, oil execs, waitresses, hostesses, etc are what underscored JR’s world. We loved it when the family went to the Oil Barons Ball or when the cartel came calling on JR with some lame proposition.

TNT can cast a bunch of young pretty people and it won’t matter. If “Dallas” doesn’t have Larry, Linda Grey, Patrick Duffy, and Ken Kercheval as the phenomenal Cliff Barnes, they might as well not throw good money away. (Hey, what Gary and Val’s kids, too, from “Knots Landing”?) “Dallas” is about texture and substance. The fans will not settle for anything less.

PS “Dallas” went off the air 20 years ago. John Ross should be about 40 (about the same age JR was when we met him).

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4 replies to this post
  1. There just cannot be a Dallas reboot without Mr. Hagman. And for that matter, without Linda Gray as well!!!

    The lines over the season…there are so many favorites. How can one just settle on one quote???

    A favorite line

    Sue Ellen fiddles with her ear and earrings at her vanity mirror.

    SUE-ELLEN: “Which slut are you sleeping with tonight?”

    J.R: “Does it matter? Whoever she is, she’ll be more interesting than the slut I’m looking at right now.

  2. Oh yeah: one of my FAVORITE JR Ewing lines ever came when his sister-in-law Kristen started threatening to tell everyone about their affair, if he didn’t leave her sister Sue Ellen.

    Kristen: You wouldn’t want me to tell Jock or Miss Ellie about what’s been going on between us, would you JR?

    JR: IS that a threat? Well darlin’ I thought you were smarter than that. Now let me tell you what’s gonna happen. You are gonna mess around with me, and I’ll send a couple of good ol’ boys over here. Make you wish you never heard my name.

    **Fade out on Kristen’s terrified face.**

    I will love this show forever.

  3. I AGREE!!! The only person who can play JR Ewing is Larry Hagman.

    He was the man then, and he is the man now! :)

    I never missed a single episode of Dallas from the first to the last, so I would absolutely call myself the greatest fan of the show.

    What TNT needs to be doing is just running the original series in a prominent time period so that everyone can watch the excellence that was this show.

    They just don’t make them like this anymore.

    I’ll take JR plotting and scheming with Harry McSween to trump up some phony rape charges on some poor schnook who crossed him any day — or ruining Cliff Barnes’ political career aspirations for the 99th time.

    It just had better ONLY be the great Larry Hagman doing it! :)

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