In a nutshell: (Very) catchy theme music. Very complicated. Possible new favourite show. It makes the list anyway, I have my loyalties.
Anything I write about this is written as someone who never saw the original show, so please, don’t be mean about any ignorance.
That said, I know the important things! It’s famous for its “Who shot J.R.?” cliffhanger! And it had a dream sequence that lasted an entire season! (I really hope they do a callback to that. Though they probably shouldn’t do a season again, after the reaction to The Killing.)
You may have seen this referred to as “Dallas: The Next Generation”, and that’s a good way to look at it. Patrick Duffy is still there as Bobby, Larry Hagman is still J.R. and Linda Gray is still Sue Ellen, but they aren’t meant to be the focus any more.
J.R. and Sue Ellen have a son, John Ross (Josh Henderson), who enjoys calling Christopher “cousin.” His girlfriend, Elena Ramos (Jordana Brewster) is Christopher’s ex-fiancee and daughter of the cook.
And they all live very happily on a nice big ranch called Southfork. Well. It wouldn’t be much of a show if it was happily.
Fun fact: Jesse Metcalfe isn’t the only Housewives alumnus – Brenda Strong was Mary Alice and Josh Henderson was Austin McCann (Edie’s nephew.)
The original show was Bobby and J.R. fighting over drilling or not drilling on the ranch.
Now their mother, Miss Ellie, has died, leaving in her will a stipulation that there will be no drilling; as you’ve already guessed, that works for all of five minutes. The first scene is John Ross doing exactly that (secretly, of course. Bobby isn’t exactly thrilled when he finds out.)
And now it’s John Ross and Christopher fighting over drilling for oil or looking for alternative energy.
Bobby’s finding out about the drilling happens to coincide with him getting some other bad news, which I won’t spoil. Unless it turns out to be dream.
This prompts a radical decision: to sell (!) Southfork. (Can he do that? Isn’t Southfork to Dallas what the Ponderosa was to Bonanza?)
And this prompts 15 or 16 sneaky plots, in the form of J.R. wanting to get it and John Ross wanting to get it, and the people willing to help them… or blackmail them. Or help them, but blackmail them for more.
While the Battle of Southfork rages on, there’s more trouble closer to home, between John Ross and Christopher.
One fight is, of course, Oil v. Alternative Energy, or John Ross Trying To Prove That The Alternative Energy Is Bad.
The other puts poor Elena in the middle of a triangle between the three of them; remember her being Christopher’s ex-fiancee? Well, they didn’t exactly just decide to break up – as it turns out, someone (John Ross says it wasn’t him, honest!) broke them up.
Note: an easy way to remember John Ross is the bad boy is the facial hair. Good boy Christopher has none. J.R. also sports some rather spectacular eyebrows.
As I said, complicated. But then that seems to be something this show does (and, let’s admit it, every other show like it.)
Newbie question: apparently there’s a third brother called Gary? No third side to the rivalry, so he’s conveniently forgotten?
I hope, even if this didn’t help you, it at least didn’t make you more confused – if you want that, I found this worked rather well.
I’ll definitely be watching next week! (TNT on Wednesdays) Will you?