'Dallas': A preview of Season 2 and a catch-up guide to Season 1
It's impossible to mention TNT's revamp of "Dallas" without touching on the sudden passing of series star Larry Hagman, who died of complications from leukemia last November 23.
Fortunately for fans of the show and of the TV icon, Hagman had already filmed the first five episodes of Season 2 (which premieres on January 28), and his presence will continue to be felt throughout the season, and, it's safe to say, the rest of the series run.
[Related: How Larry Hagman created TV's best villain]
"Dallas" executive producer Cynthia Cidre has even written Hagman's death into the show, as the March 11 episode, the eighth installment of Season 2, will bring back several faces from the original "Dallas" run as friends, family, and enemies gather in Dallas for J.R. Ewing's funeral.
It's a rare occasion that a classic TV star and the character he or she played get a contemporary onscreen sendoff, so viewers of the original and new series certainly have reason to tune in for the special tribute to the Emmy- and Golden Globes-nominated actor. "It will be funny and appropriate to J.R., but it will also be sad because his family loved him," Cidre told EW.com. "As do the fans."
In the meantime, as the new season kicks off with back-to-back episodes -- "Battle Lines" and "Venomous Creatures" -- here's what else the Ewing clan is up to in the 15 episodes of Season 2:
- "Who's the Boss?" star Judith Light joins the cast as Judith Brown Ryland, Ann Ewing's (Brenda Strong) former mother-in-law. Ann's ex, Harris Ryland (Mitch Pileggi) only teased just how rotten he can be last season, and in Season 2, both we and Ann's hubby, Bobby (Patrick Duffy), learn a terrible, heartbreaking secret that came as a result of machinations by Harris and his meddling mama.
- Christopher (Jesse Metcalfe) and John Ross (Josh Henderson) continue to duke it out for control of the family business, with J.R.'s offspring continuing to push for Ewing Energies to focus on oil, and Bobby's son continuing to aim the company's focus on alternative energies. Bobby and even Christopher's fiancé Elena (Jordana Brewster) urge Christopher to consider John Ross's plans, but their efforts to make peace between the cousins is moot ... John Ross is committed to ruining Christopher and Elena now that they've recoupled.
- John will have plenty of help with his vengeance quest, namely from his cousin-in-law, Rebecca, aka Cliff Barnes's daughter. Rebecca (Julie Gonzalo) has vowed to destroy her estranged husband, Christopher, since he dumped her after realizing she had lied to him about who she really is, meaning she and John Ross have a common goal (and they are very, very committed to it).
- Viewers, by the way, know Rebecca is Cliff's daughter; Christopher does not. Yet. But he will soon.
- The newly single Christopher won't be spending all his time plotting with Rebecca. The season opens with him crashing a bachelorette party with several items on his agenda. "I don't think we had enough sex on the show last year because we had couples, and couples can't cheat if you want to like them," Cidre told EW.com. "But now John Ross is the stud around town."
- Cidre has a wish list of original "Dallas" characters she'd like to have pop in for J.R.'s funeral, including Charlene Tilton as J.R.'s niece Lucy; Ken Kercheval as Ewing family enemy Cliff Barnes; Steve Kanaly as Ray Krebbs, J.R.'s and Bobby's half-brother; Deborah Rennard as J.R.'s onetime secretary, Sly (who helped him carry out many a misdeed back in the day); Ted Shackleford as J.R.'s brother Gary; and Joan Van Ark as Gary's wife, Valene.
- Hagman, whose return as J.R. was truly a treat throughout Season 1, continues to deliver some wicked lines in Season 2. During "Venomous Creatures," he notices John Ross steaming while watching Christopher and Elena kiss, and advises Junior to use his anger to fuel his plans. "Love, hate, jealousy ... mix 'em up and they make a mean martini," says J.R. "And when we take over Ewing Energies, you'll slake your thirst ... with a twist."
- Mexican film star Kuno Becker will join the cast as Drew, Elena's brother, who became a hostile teen after witnessing the death of their father. Drew is a military vet who did a tour of duty in Iraq and then traveled around the world working on oil rigs, and is now about to return to Dallas and stir up more drama for the Southforkians.
- Sue Ellen's gubernatorial bid hits a snag, and that tempts her to return to a very bad habit.