Under The Gun is continuing our efforts to bring you more original and engaging content with REASONABLE REMAKES. Written by film-nerd Justin Proper, this column aims to highlight Hollywood’s forgotten gems and spark debate.
You see, we’ve grown tired of Hollywood rehashing ideas we’re old enough to remember. Why remake something the majority of the planet still remembers and loves deeply when there are tons of films that deserve a chance to be as great as modern technology and skill can make them? If you agree, this column is for you.
This week’s guest columnist: UTG Editor James Shotwell (Twitter)
Twenty years ago I was four-years-old and living in a tiny town somewhere in Northwest Ohio alongside my mother and father. I have no recollection of pop culture, though somedays I feel like Ernest Saves Christmas was somehow a turning point in my youth, and therefore want to preface today’s Reasonable Remakes by saying that I did not experience the era known as the 80′s. This may have played a pivotal role in the thoughts expressed in this column, but then again – maybe not. All I know for certain is that regardless of how old you are, everybody can appreciate the inexplicably shitty, yet historic the television finale that prefaces this column:
Dallas was at one time a goliath of primetime television, and starting June 13 it will return to television (via TNT) with hopes of again climbing the charts and entertaining with tales of the Ewing family’s ever-present turmoil. This may seem like a small feat that should only be made known to those familiar with the original series, and that would be the case if the show’s return was a mediocre rehash of the original, but in reality it is fantastically well executed reworking of a 24-karat gold idea and a defining moment for primetime television that could very well impact the future of TV for years to come.
The return of Dallas marks a creative turn for television properties that have proven shelf life and/or have been “ahead of their time.” For years it seemed the only moves executives would make with popular old series were reissues on various distribution platforms or, if the fans were extremely lucky (in some cases, unfortunate) a movie, but the return of Dallas proves some things may be able to make a successful return to the small screen in the form of NEW EPISODES as well. Think of what of that might mean for the next five years of television. Go on, I’ll wait…
Dallas‘ return also drives home an often-discussed, but rarely defended belief that modern pop culture is as obsessed with soap operas as ever, even if the daytime cornerstones have begun to fail. Look at the ratings for shows like True Blood or Mad Men and it’s clear the demand for human drama, albeit often disguised with a cool plot device, is as in demand as any other genre of entertainment. People love to see tension, and while shows with escapism factors can be fun, there is no second to the thrill of believable people in believable situations who seem likely to kill one another if given the chance. Dallas thrives on this aspect. TNT bought the series after viewing only the pilot episode, and having seen the first seven episodes of the new season I can tell you firsthand that things only get better as the plot begins to thicken.
Of course, all of this only works because the team behind Dallas did things the right way. What way is that, you ask? They went back to the source material, pulled out the core elements (including the original cast), and proceeded build upon well established story lines with an angle geared toward current events. JR and Bobby are still as at odd as ever, but their now half-century old battle takes a backseat to the brimming battle between John Ross Ewing III, the son of J.R. and Sue Ellen Ewing; and Christopher Ewing, the adopted son of Bobby Ewing and Pam Ewing. John Ross is following in the footsteps of his father and doing everything he can to rebuild the Ewing Oil Company, but Christopher has traveled the world and found a passion to seek out alternative energies. It’s a point the serves a fine purpose for giving the show a reason to be reintroduced, but what makes it truly great is the lies, deception, and all-out emotional warfare involved behind-the-scenes. Everything is shouldered on the actors and every one, even the aging and at times hard to take seriously Patrick Duffy, has dozens of moments to shine.
Whether you’re familiar with the original or a complete n00b, I cannot recommend the return of Dallas enough. Forget about the gimmicks of other primetime shows, overlook the fact they cannot swear heavily because it’s TNT even though they’re oil men, and make sure to watch or DVR the series premiere on TNT next Wednesday, June 13. If you love drama, and by that I mean real human conflict set against a (mostly) believable backdrop, there is nothing that can compare.